Earlier this week, in pink bus stops up and down Davie St in Vancouver, ads appeared that said “Proud supporters of Pride Day” and showed Tiny Replicas, a Thirty Below theatre production, opened at The Cultch and for most of the play, two gay men sat in a brown leather chair and sweated, and worried and cried as they wrestled with the idea of becoming gay parents.
The homosexual parent is invisible. This is the driving force behind Tiny Replicas, as characters bicker constantly not only about their own anxieities and personal doubt surrounding conventional parenthood, but also about the fallacies of sexual representation in Canadian culture. It is the over-the top exuberance of the green couch that keeps people feeling good about supporting the Pride parade, but makes it harder for Canadians to see gay men as responsible, thoughtful parents on the brown couch.
Tiny Replicas challenges these ideologies and handles the idea of empowering gay men very responsibly. We are shown a side of the great debate that is too often kept supressed. However, a crack in the play’s foundation creeps up after the comic relief character of Jude delivers the line “It’s only charity if you have to beg for it.” In this instance they were talking about a gin and tonic, but in many ways this is what Tiny Replicas is about.
Throughout the play the men do beg, but they don’t beg the government to allow their parenthood, they beg their female friends to help them conceive, and although the women agree that the government’s hoop-jumping is wrong, and that there actions will somehow empower the gay community, they bestow their eggs and wombs, by definition, only as charity and not as equal partners. And so while the women who support and ultimately enable the whole thing to happen, have openly done so in many ways just to ‘stick it to the man’ and to try to help empower the homosexual community, ultimately they make the men beg for their charity.
You will laugh and worry along with the characters, and you will understand how Tiny Replicas succeeds as an important cultural artifact introducing us to the invisible gay parent and the hardships they must endure in order to live a life they are entitled to. They put the green couch out in the back alley and set up the brown couch, where there is still laughter and joy, but there is also worry, and fear, and saving for a child’s education.
See Tiny Replicas this weekend at the Cultch: Friday July 23 @7 pm, Saturday July 24 @ 4:30 pm, and Sunday @7 pm.