OH, IT IS JUST SO easy to make fun of hillbillies, isn't it? Put a bunch of developmentally disabled, socially disenfranchised, and financially challenged hillbillies (or "Sons of the Soil" as they prefer to be called) on stage and expect the jaded jerks of Seattle to laugh, right? Has Red Card Productions no shame? No conscience? I have a feeling that Robert Gifford, author of Eddie Paul Rex -- a "hillbilly adaptation" of Sophocles' master tragedy Oedipus Rex -- is the type of guy who laughs at retarded kids, car accidents, and fat chick jokes. Shame on you, Mr. Gifford! Hillbillies have souls too!

And just what is it about buck-toothed, inbred, toe-pickin' yokels that spoiled urbanite yuppsters find so darn hi-larious? It was just plain cruel the way the audience carried on. I personally cried at every Dolly Parton Christmas special ever made -- especially the ones where she sings that song about her "Coat of Many Colors" that her grandma made out of filthy, stinky old rags because there were like 14 of her family living in a tool shed. Why, Dolly grew up without a pot to piss in or a window to throw it out of, but she had something you don't understand, Mr. Gifford -- and that's LOVE. That's right, a proud family heritage of L.O.V.E. and that's why she, and not you Mr. Gifford, is the international legend she is today!

And Red Card had the audacity to mock this heritage by singing songs like "Birthin' a Youngun'," describing the characters as "Jesus fearin'" and "cotton pickin'" ignoramuses. Apparently Sons of the Soil are an acceptable prejudice for you latte-sipping, Gap-wearing ingrates. If it had been a Hebrew adaptation of Oedipus and contained lyrics like "dreidel-spinning, money-grubbing," or an African American one with "crack pipe- smokin', gangsta'-rappin'," you would all have the ADL and NAACP breathing down your scrawny necks faster than you could stick a pair of size six pumps into your eyes! You better believe it!

What Red Card Productions needs is some diversity training. Gain a little tolerance for other cultures and ways of life. Jed Clampett was the noblest man ever to walk God's green earth and the Country Bear Jamboree is still the best damn attraction Disneyland ever had! We all need to learn to find solidarity in diversity and embrace our hillbill... er, uh, Sons of the Soil brethren and their noble heritage!

I really liked this show. It was funny, tight, original, and clever. Go see it.

* * *

WHY DO I ALWAYS get the gay shows? I may be getting just a teensy bit paranoid, but it seems that every time someone even mentions the word "gay" on a Seattle stage, out trots old Adrian to take a bullet for the team. Doesn't anyone realize that this is ruining my life? I haven't the guile for dishonesty nor the brains to play politics, so if I'm asked to review whatever stinker is currently being staged by some queer outreach program or other and starring half of the populace of Capitol Hill, I end up having to stay home weekends and avoid people on the street. I have gotten more than a few vicious glares from people I later recognized as having starred in said stinkers and am sure that at least one full ensemble cast has taken out a contract on my life. Hell hath no fury like a drag queen scorned.

But I have no intention of trashing Queercore's production of Fruit Cocktale. Not because I have seen the heels on some of director George Weiss' more eccentric footwear and tremble at the damage they could do, but because I actually enjoyed it. This is a fun, well-conceived play about young queer men. It was written by young queer men and is staged specifically for -- you guessed it! -- young queer men. Being a young queer man, I related completely. But if you, unlike me, happen to be anything other than a young queer man -- a fat suburbanite grandma for instance -- you will probably be totally alienated by the explicit situations and dialogue. And the jokes? Whoosh! Right over your head.

While Queercore should be commended for staging this honest glimpse into the complex world and relationships of gay Gen-Xers, as a total theatrical experience... well, it amounts to a bunch of good friends telling inside jokes at a dinner party. If you are a young queer man, I can wholeheartedly recommend this production for an entertaining and thought-provoking night of theater. But your fat suburbanite grandma? Take her to see something she can relate to, something -- well, less gay. Like Fame.

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