Written and performed by Tawiah M’carthy. Directed by Evalyn Parry. Buddies in Bad Times, to Oct. 7.
“Obaaberima,” in actor-playwright Tawiah M’carthy’s native Ghana, means “girl-boy.” That word only begins to suggest the identity crises faced by Agyeman, the West African immigrant played by M’carthy in his sophomore solo show, which opens the new Buddies in Bad Times season. As a young Ghanaian transplanted to Canada, Agyeman faces cultural dislocation compounded by the fact that he’s also queer, a transvestite, and has a girlfriend. He recounts his lifetime of confusion on the day he’s about to be released from prison, revealing how it led to the fatal act that put him behind bars. His crime is confusing and unconvincing, but the story leading up to it is a relatable one about the mounting pressures of trying to conform to other people’s expectations. M’carthy performs it with supple skill and, in Agyeman’s provocative drag persona, manages to make an orange prison jumpsuit look sexy. He’s backed by an African-accented soundscape, played live by multi-instrumentalist Kobena Aquaa-Harrison.