Hosanna’s Higher Self
If Requiem For A Dream, Moulin Rouge and Carrie had a rendezvous their offspring would be a lot like Hosanna. Damien Atkins was riveting in his portrayal of Hosanna, an aging drag queen who models herself after the legendary Elizabeth Taylor. Hosanna’s outrageously sharp tongue lands her in a fight with her biker boyfriend Cuirette played by the larger than life Jason Cadieux. From the first scene Jason and Damien had the room in the palm of their hands as Hosanna’s life gets told through a heated argument between the two of them which makes for an incredible amount of edgy tension.
The Gender Offence
I can see why this play was controversial, especially to some within the LGBT community because it portrays gender in a way that is arguably not realistic. Written by Michael Tremblay, Hosanna tells the story of a transvestite who ultimately comes out as a gay man.
The program labels Hosanna a “drag queen” which is quite different from how she actually was throughout the story. Typically a drag queen is someone who dresses up for theatrical purposes with the word ‘drag’ referring to clothing. That’s different from a Trans person who has chosen to live their life as another gender. One is entertainment while the other is an expression of authenticity so when our heroine Hosanna retires all of her womanly things and comes out as a gay man the suggestion is that Hosanna really just needed to find her prince charming and then she would be able to give up wanting to be a woman.
Being LGBT, coming out or coming of age are processes that propel people towards authenticity which something people generally desire more of over time.
Sexuality is far more fluid than we give it room for in our current binary system so perhaps her gender expression was more reflection of the time period in history. After all, this play was written in 1973 which was a time when our society was literally at war with the LGBT community. In many ways one could almost view Hosanna as a tragic love story because her choice to give up being a drag queen came on the heels of her realization that not only did society hate her, everyone in her community did too. Hosanna is powerfully acted and at its core is a twisted love story and beautiful train wreck all in one.
Blowing Smoke, The Irony of Scents
Side note: The program notes say that playwright Michael Trembly had wanted the audience to experience the heavy cheap perfume Hosanna spritzed throughout the show but we Canadians have banned scents so the audience smelt nothing. Ironically all the way through the show both actors smoked ‘fake’ cigarettes made of what smelled like lettuce or rose leaf which is precisely 100 times more disgusting.
Young Centre for the Performing Arts
On stage from September 23, 2016