Times Lauds Play's "Vigorous Defense of Gay marriage"

Hyping a new gay play, the Times lets two performers accuse a politician of inciting anti-gay violence.

If there's any doubt about the Times' aggressive cheerleading on liberal cultural issues, the Arts page has jumped on board "Bash'd," a "gay rap opera" that's just opened off-Broadway. The Times followed a long preview on Sunday with a passionately favorable review on Wednesday.

Alexis Soloski set the performers up as brave truth-tellers in "Firing Back at Gay Bashers, Bawdily."

Enjoying cocktails after a fatiguing rehearsal for "Bash'd," a "gay rap opera," Chris Craddock and Nathan Cuckow, the show's Canadian writers and actors, recalled an evening nearly a year ago. Having just performed at the New York International Fringe Festival, they were strolling down a Greenwich Village street when, Mr. Cuckow said, a young man passed them and hissed an anti-gay slur.

Without showing any skepticism, Soloski let the Canadian duo ludicrously claim an Alberta politician's use of metaphors in opposition to a 2005 Canadian gay marriage law "led to a rise in anti-gay violence."

Mr. Craddock described the province of Alberta, where the two men live, as "the Texas of Canada - we export oil and cattle and deeply conservative thought." After the law was passed, Alberta's premier, Ralph Klein, made many speeches contesting it. "A lot of the language he was using was very militaristic," Mr. Cuckow recalled. Mr. Klein used words like "weapons" and "arsenal" when discussing his fight against the new law. Mr. Craddock and Mr. Cuckow say they think that sort of posturing led to a rise in anti-gay violence. Several of their gay friends were beaten, and a few heterosexual ones too. In December 2005 the two men decided they would turn their rhymes to a more serious subject, using "gay rap as a vehicle to tell the story of a gay bashing," Mr. Cuckow said.

In Wednesday's review of the production, Andy Webster passionately approved of the production's "vigorous defense of gay marriage."

The production confers a kind of sainthood on Dillon and Jack - taking a supernatural turn at one point, it appropriates the heavenly wings of "Angels in America" - but then "Bash'd!" isn't drama; it's fabulist agitprop. Yet it comes down to earth at the right times, and is blunt where it needs to be, in its vigorous defense of gay marriage and in a haunting recitation of names of people murdered in homophobic hysteria, beginning with Matthew Shepard and Brandon Teena. And going on. And on. And on. In such moments "Bash'd!" shows its rage, its grief and its driven, heartfelt determination.