Cheap Tricks

Fantastic Z Theatre Company, an self-described artist-run LBGTQ theatre, opened Sidewinders, the Northwest premiere of an “existential transgender wild western” by award winning playwright Basil Kreimendahl at Richard Hugo House on Thursday, July 16.

Two strangers of indeterminate gender are mysteriously stranded at the end of a railroad line in the Great Plains, sometime during the 19th century, before the area was settled. While struggling with the great question of how to get back to civilization, they also struggle with questions of sexual identity. The author clumsily uses the metaphor of being stranded in the middle of nowhere as the definition of a transgender.

The play, such as it was, was one long rambling incoherent conversation, with stilted dialogue, which was neither realistic nor stylized. It did not pay attention to English language conversational intonation patterns by not employing contractions of auxiliary verbs. N.B. the sentence “I did not”, does not mean the same as “I didn’t” and has a completely different subtext, and would be delivered with a different intonation. Yet the dialogue was riddled with sentences like that.

As a result, the dialogue, delivered in over the top unidentifiable accents seemed caricatured at best. The author and director, Joshua Jon, threw in a lot of cheap tricks for thrills and I left the theatre no more enlightened about the challenges of transgender individuals than I was before I sat down.

In Seattle, fringe theaters love to take on topics related to “alternative” lifestyles, but this is supposed to be art, and it is supposed to provide interesting entertainment and enlightenment.

Sidewinders. Fantastic Z Theatre Company. Richard Hugo House.

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