Bootycandy – review

“This is such a teachable moment. Go see… With an open heart and mind (if not, mouth)”.
Gate Theatre
Review by: Michael Scott-Harding
afridiziak ratings
Published: Monday 20th February 2023, 9:00am

Prince Kundai, DK Fashola, Luke Wilson - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
Prince Kundai, DK Fashola, Luke Wilson - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
Prince Kundai, DK Fashola, Luke Wilson - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
Prince Kundai, DK Fashola, Luke Wilson – Bootycandy Production – Ali Wright

It’s difficult to effectively describe this diverting, subversive – often hilarious – show, without giving much of the game away.

It is true to say, however, that its irreverent – ostensibly ‘slapdash’ – style hides a series of the serious message(s); one that can best be held under the banner of ‘lampoon’. 

Robert O’Hara’s Bootycandy starts off in ‘the three-quarter round’, with semi-nude male ‘Sutter’ (portrayed by Prince Kundai) ‘playing’ with the audience. The play ‘proper’ starts when the ‘mother’ (Bimpé Pacheco) arrives to dress the ‘9-year old’, in preparation for an outing. He then starts asking her about the social protocols regarding ‘bootycandy’ (a pet-name for the male penis that he has over-heard).

Prince Kundai - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
Prince Kundai – Bootycandy Production – Ali Wright

At the end of this slightly uncomfortable ‘scene’, it soon becomes clear just where the piece is going, as an outrageously over-the-top black preacher (the fabulous Luke Wilson) excoriates his church flock for adding hypocrisy and gossip to their other sins, when casting aspersions on the sexual identity of other (younger) church members.

Wilson effortlessly uses all of his vast voice range, as he becomes ever-more outrageous, shrill and – yes – downright hilarious in his condemnation of the ‘he said- she said’ brigade.

DK Fashola - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
DK Fashola – Bootycandy Production – Ali Wright

Following this, we get treated to a series of conversations between two competing trapdoors, two telephones and an assortment of wigs, as Pacheco and DK Fashola hilariously discuss one of them has named their child ‘Genitalia’.

After a more extended two-part scene with Kundai and the superb Role Botha – in which we see the evolution of a long-term ‘gay’ relationship’ between two adolescents – it becomes clear that this ‘sketch-show’ is, in many ways, a commentary on what it means to have grown up gay.

Indeed, in many ways, it seems to be a narrative on the trials, tribulations, pitfalls and self-imposed injuries to be overcome – if lucky – by those painted by the ‘rainbow stick’.

Bimpé Pacheco and Prince Kundai - Bootycandy Production - Ali Wright
Bimpé Pacheco and Prince Kundai – Bootycandy Production – Ali Wright

This should not impede from the very serious message(s) being shared.

By extension, these messages should not get in the way of the very real enjoyment to be had when serious things get presented (by talented people) for jokes.

This is such a teachable moment. Go-see… With an open heart and mind (if not, mouth).

NEED TO KNOW: Bootycandy is at the Gate Theatre until 11 March 2023
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bootycandy-review It’s difficult to effectively describe this diverting, subversive - often hilarious - show, without giving much of the game away. It is true to say, however, that its irreverent - ostensibly ‘slapdash’ - style hides a series of the serious message(s); one that can best...