Arts Theatre

ReVue: The Pink Unicorn deftly explores GSAs and bigotry

A southern charmer // Ian Jackson, Epic Photography
A southern charmer // Ian Jackson, Epic Photography

“We don’t have what you might call ‘diversity,'” Trisha Lee offers near the start of The Pink Unicorn regarding her small Texas town. She isn’t complaining: Trisha Lee (Louise Lambert) is not our usual theatrical protagonist, particularly not the type to speak out on LGBTQ issues—adorned in pink, with primped-up hair, a floral skirt and with a pitcher of rose-tinted lemonade nearby, she radiates some small-town Stepford Wives version of gender normativity.

Yet, in The Pink Unicorn, and much to her chagrin, Trisha Lee finds herself on the dividing edge of LGBTQ issues when her daughter cuts off her hair, comes out as genderqueer and attempts to form a GSA at the high school. Mother ends up stuck between the church-going crowd she’s always happily been a part of and her daughter’s explorations of a spectrum she didn’t even know existed, much less understands.

That Edmonton finds itself dealing with similar issues in schools gives The Pink Unicorn a certain zeitgeist-y pertinence, but even if that wasn’t the case, this one-woman show by American playwright Elise Forier Edie, would still offer up the most endearing and hilarious look at our (mis)handling of queer issues that we’re likely to see grace a stage all year. Northern Light Theatre’s excellent presentation of a deft script from an unlikely perspective is the sort of thing everyone on both sides of the issue should see. Because our protagonist is right there in the middle: from her white picket-fence yard, beautifully envisioned with quilted hills and craft-work trees (design by Trevor Schmidt, who also directs with a balance of comedy and heart), Trisha Lee walks us through her flailing attempts to understand the person her daughter is becoming. She internet-searches a lot of terms like LGBTQ, and delivers wincing lines like “Gays and lesbians and by-what-nots” or, more offensively, “Gender is on a scale … like autism!”

That it all lands well is thanks to Lambert’s skillful performance: her Trisha Lee is utterly endearing, grounding some of the more cartoonish and/or bigoted lines of dialogue in an earnest, southern motherly sense of care. Because, through that prism of the accepted social bigotry she’s always known, she’s squinting hard, trying to see the right way forward as a loving mother. Which, at its core, is what propels The Pink Unicorn: it’s a show about mother attempting to understand child and learning to love with an open mind, an idea that can often get lost in a time when politics are more binary than sexual orientation.

Until Sat, Feb 28 (7:30 pm; additional late-night performance on Fri, Feb 27 at 11:30 pm)
Directed by Trevor Schmidt
ATB Financial Arts Barns,
$16 – $28

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