This one-man Tiger Dublin Fringe show about the alternative, LGBT-inclusive St. Patrick’s Day Parade turns the negativity of rejection from the main NYC parade on its head, says Peter Roche.
Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, except in New York that is, where up until this year LGBT groups have been excluded from marching in the Fifth Avenue Parade. In retaliation to this a parade has been running at the same time in the New York burrough of Queens for the last 14 years called the St. Pat’s For All Parade. As the name suggests, this parade champions diversity in all its forms and welcomes LGBT groups. It shot to national attention this year when our very own Panti Bliss was invited over after delivering her infamous speech at the Abbey.
A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade is the story of the St Pat’s For All Parade, as told by Brian Fleming, the sole performer. Mr. Fleming and his one-man shows have been Fringe favourites in the past with sold out runs in 2011 and 2013.
The show opens wiith the stage is bathed in a green light and what looks like a tombstone is standing in the corner. A grave voiceover waxes religiously about repentance and unholy desires of the flesh. Just as you brace yourself for a 45 minute preach-fest, the lights brighten and the tombstone is revealed to be Fleming in disguise. Without skipping a beat he regales us with stories of how he became involved in the Queens parade. As he jumps giddily from Ireland to New York, and forwards and backwards in time, we’re treated to vignettes of the characters he meets along the way – a charismatic Irish dance pro, a musclebound and fiddle-playing tough guy, a hero priest, an idealistic outcast.
At the heart of A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade is a heart-warming message of inclusion in the face of bigotry. The script doesn’t linger on the injustices of this world, but rather on moments of beauty and compassion. Fleming is a warm observer who manages to tie events large and small together to give a wonderful sense of meaning; he even verges on the spiritual towards the end.
Belly laughs and warm fuzzy feelings pervade this play. It manages to be feel-good without veering into tweeness, while Fleming is a powerhouse solo performer and a delight to watch. Go and get carried away before its Fringe run ends.
A Sacrilegious Lesbian and Homosexual Parade runs at The New Theatre in Temple Bar until September 13 as part of the Tiger Dublin Fringe Festival. Booking here.
© 2014 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.