Xena Live: Chicago

The following contains spoilers for Xena Live! the gay/lesbian theater production at About Face in Chicago, IL.

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First off let me say that there are only two people on this planet who can pull off the characters of Xena and Gabrielle. Their names being Lucy Lawless and Renee O’ Connor. But Alexandra Billings (Fighter Xena), Elizabeth Laidlaw (Lover Xena) and Amy Matheny (Gabrielle and plays producer) do a pretty good job in this play. And second, although I’d like to . . . I know I can’t do a ‘blow by blow’ summary . . . but I’ll try to remember as much as possible.

The play opens with a singer on stage and a woman captivated by said singer. After the performance is over the woman talks to the singer but suddenly becomes a purse-snatching victim. The singer ‘saves her’. The young woman thanks her but the singer says it’s no problem. She’d fight an entire army for the woman if she had to. The young woman says that yes in a former life she had (LOL) and the woman goes into a 'story’ about their past life together.

House lights come back up and we see Gabby lying on her stomach working on a scroll. Xena for her part is asleep – her head resting on Gabrielle’s butt (LOL). At this point I’m thinking this is pretty good. I doubt I’ll ever see that scene on TV but I’m hoping Tapert will ‘see the light’ (VBG). Anyway, seems X and G are spending the night in some evil woods. Xena wakes up and mentions the dream about being a singer in the future. Suddenly the Sorceress (Bruce Reed, who looks like a deranged Disney Villain – and I mean that in a good way (VBG).) sends his giant beetles and birds after the duo. It’s goofy and campy and the actors ham it up pretty good (G). The sorceress gets even with the duo for trespassing by zapping Xena, dividing her into two beings – one evil and one good. They defeat the sorceress goons but Gabby doesn’t realize what has happened. Suddenly Xena isn’t so nice and starts to order her around. They go to Athens and when a girl refused to ‘dance’ for Xena she gets upset. Gabrielle defends the girl but suddenly has the tables turned on her. Someone is gonna dance for Xena and Xena tries to force the bard to do her bidding.

Gabby gets away and she finds Joxer (Brad Harbaugh). Gabby tells him that she doesn’t understand why Xena is so mean. He goes to check it out and ends up sparring with Xena because she has to FIGHT! It’s been a whole two minutes and she must do battle with someone. Of course she kicks Joxer’s fanny and Joxer does more to himself than Xena does to him. He’s not a graceful man after all (VBG).

Meanwhile, Gabrielle finds Xena again but her demeanor has changed (Remember? She doesn’t realize there’s a good one and an evil one). This Xena would move heaven and hell for her and as Xena confesses she can’t keep the ‘subtext sub’ any longer. No more long, hot baths with no ‘pay-offs’. She wants it all baby and she wants it now! (LOL). Gabby is very near adhering to Xena’s request but she knows something is just not right and puts up an argument. Weak argument but an argument. (VBG). The debate ends with a seductive kiss but all is not well because good Xena has ‘fears and demons’ – one being Callisto (Loretta Rezos – She’s got a pretty good beat on Calli and her war cry shrill is a perfect match to Hudson Leick’s scream but the dialog wasn’t very good. That however doesn’t surprise me – Calli is the queen of the one lines and that’s what this character lacked.)

Anyway, Callisto does battle with Xena. Xena wins but Calli manages to run off. Xena tries to put the make on Gabby again but gets interrupted by Muffy, the amazon layer (LOL). Muffy (played by understudy Sharon Greene in the production I saw) falls to her knees and introduces herself and her friends. Of course she takes the opportunity to kiss and suck on Gabby’s fingers as well as kissing the Gabby Ab’s. Xena don’t take kindly to someone messin’ with her woman and Muffy and Xena get into. Gabrielle ends up breaking up the fight and tells Muffy – thanks but no thanks. My woman is Xena. She tells Muffy that her destine is to kill vampires on the WB (LOL). Muffy thinks it over. It sounds pretty cool to her so she goes off, sharpening her numbchucks into stakes (LOL).

Ares (Ned Mochel – Who, without the biceps, black hair and beard, just isn’t very ‘Ares’ to me) shows up next as Xena’s second fear. He puts the make on Xena. They dance, they kiss and Gabby runs away if I remember correctly (VBG). Ares disappears and enter Aphrodite (Dawn Alden – who does a good valley girl Dite even if she doesn’t have Alex’s killer body. But let’s be honest, how many women do? (LOL)).

Dite and Xena chat about the fact that Xena has never been in love – except when it comes to Gabrielle. Ares, Caesar, etc. . . .Xena goes down the list of lovers. She even includes that ‘Chinese chick who knows how to air dance’ (LOL). All of them were lust Dite points out but with Gabby . . . well let’s say Gabby is ‘very special’ (VBG). It’s love all the way! At some point (like I said things are choppy since I’m going from memory here (G).) Xena, Gabby and Joxer all meet up again. Xena is proving her love by picking flowers for Gabby. Gabby says that if Xena really wants to prove her love she’ll keep picking. Of course Gabby isn’t taking joy in making Xena her errand girl – her and Joxer are just trying to figure out what is going on. What’s funny is each time Xena comes back she has more and more flowers and plants when she returns (LOL). And as Gabby realizes she has to come up with something quick because Xena is gonna pick the forest clean.

Anyway, evil Xena and good Xena finally run into each other and the sparks fly. Both women are convinced that Gabby should be with them and they fight. Gabby watches and says that ‘although she’s extremely flattered that both of them are willing to fight over her, they all have to work together’. Anyway the sorceress shows back up. Everyone battle. The sorceress is defeated in the end, of course (VBG). And Xena becomes one person again – a balance of light and dark - when she realizes that it’s her love for Gabby that keeps her ‘whole’. The sorceress goons are liberated after the villain dies and everyone starts to dance to Kool and the Gang’s ‘Celebration’ (LOL). In the middle of the fun Gabby turns to Xena, looks at her intensely and plants a big wet one on her (LOL). Xena seems a bit shocked at first but soon enough she follows her bards leads and the show ends.

This performance is definitely not for the non-subtexters and I urge any subtexter out there that has the means to make the trip to Chicago to see this play. It’s only running until the end of December so make your plans to get out there. The official Xena Live site ( http://www.XenaLive.com/xena.html ) has all the ticket prices and performance dates available.

And as for the disclaimer . . . No Xena’s were harmed from splitting into two during the show but Gabriele went home with a headache. (LOL). See? These folks are Xena fans! And they pull off this parody with a style and humor that’s been missing even from the series we watch on a regular basis. I hope Mr. Tapert checks it out in person (he already gave his permission (G) ). He just might see what’s been lacking in the Xenaverse these last few seasons.

CN Winters

Queen of Subtext