an all-out assault on good taste

— REVIEW of ‘Unsex Me’ | Marginalia

Unsex Me | Review

Mark Wilson’s gender-bending solo performance in which he plays an actress of the same name is an all-out assault on good taste which culminates in an extended scene of anal intercourse with a microphone. That it is also about Shakespeare – its title is drawn from Macbeth – both surprises and, up to a point, sets it apart from other exercises in offense of the John Waters variety.

            UnSex Me opens familiarly enough: a self-obsessed starlet is holding court on a TV chat show. The actor in question is one Mark Wilson, winner of an Academy Award. She is being directed in a stage production ofMacbeth by her father, a somewhat alarming Roman Polanski-esque figure who looms large over the play, and Mark’s fractured psyche. This reviewer was drawn into the actress’ bizarre world about fifteen minutes in, victim of the dreaded audience interaction, to temporarily assume the role of Mark’s sometimes lover, Guy. I have never kissed a man on the mouth before – much less one with a beard – but UnSex Me is that kind of show. You have been warned.

            What makes it work, and enables it to occasionally rise above its overwhelming schlockiness and almost complete lack of restraint, is Wilson’s impassioned performance. He believes in what he has written and, despite moments of almost excruciating self-indulgence, Mark the actress emerges as a genuine character, if not quite deserving of our sympathy then at least dramatically compelling. It is a script with too much in it, but its engagement with issues of gender and its presentations, with celebrity and its excesses, and with Macbeth and its possible interpretations in a post-Freudian, post-feminist world is unexpectedly thought-provoking.

“an all-out assault on good taste”