Ginger Nation

Rating ***
Reviewed by Alex Foott

Performance date – Sun 18th Aug 2013

A gleaming smile, warm words of welcome and some fervent nodding greet us as we filter in to the space. Indicating the bar and ushering us to our seats, Shawn Hitchins’ goofy and childlike energy is both disarming and refreshingly personal. His autobiographical piece is littered with charming jokes and self deprecatory anecdotes that lull us into a false sense of security. We never see the fundamental frustration of his social message until it has whipped across the audience leaving us rather winded. Tinged with the unsung woes of the redheaded, this one man show demonstrates the various biological and emotional hardships of non-heterosexual life with a combination of camp humour and heart-rending vehemence.

Shawn Hitchins has braved the Atlantic Ocean to present us with a strikingly honest account of his involvement in the conception of his friends’ first child. He includes a prologue, documenting the trials and tribulations he faced when growing up with ginger hair. Quickly spiralling into despair, he provides us with myriad disconcerting statistics from Cryos International’s ban on ginger sperm donors to the prophetic extinction of the recessive ginger gene. Hitchins, who is gay, is approached by his friends, a lesbian couple, who want to start a family. After surprisingly little contemplation, he agrees and the trio sets sail on the turbulent two-year voyage of DIY IVF. Hurdling obstacles at every turn, they strive for their elusive goal while Hitchins develops his hilarious plans to give the human race a much needed ginge-jection.

The initially jovial impression that Hitchens creates struggles to remain intact as he tumbles through his emotional narrative. He asks us to sympathise with his countless woes, yet strangely dehumanises his lesbian friends labelling them simply ‘L1 & L2’. While this mishap is surely an attempt at humour, it’s rather disconcerting. His otherwise enchanting delivery is intermittently disrupted by his lack of focus which is odd as this is an autobiographical piece. The story culminates in a truly touching letter addressed to his unborn child. Sadly, the bar staff in the venue are less than sensitive as they noisily stack chairs behind the audience, decidedly ruining the atmosphere. This is a show that touches on a rarely explored area, successfully shedding light on the ever-present struggles of gay men and women worldwide. A refreshingly candid story that exposes the universal human desire to start a family.