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How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun (Edinburgh Fringe Festival): Review

how to be a sissy Saint Francis of a Sissy. Brain Haimbach as Percy Q Shun in "How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun". Photograph: Courtesy of John Watson.

One of the sassiest, sissiest life lessons out there, How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun is an alt-masc marvel full of humour, heart, and honesty.

Welcome, sissies in training! Today, How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun will give you four cornerstone lessons in how to be a fabulous adult sissy, with help from Brain Haimbach who takes us through what it was like growing up a sissy in 1980s midwest America.

Writing

Masculinity these days seems to be more toxic than a Britney Spears single circa 2003. Even in the gay male community the recent rise of “masc4masc” is as much of a bore as it is a corrosive bane of the community, its identity, and cohesion. So, all hail How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun: a sensational celebration of male effemininity. But what’s absolutely marvellous about How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun is that it’s not some frivolous campery that pits one idea of gender against another, but a genuine testimony and heartfelt reflection on identity and acceptance that is both entertaining and incredibly tender.

Brain Haimbach’s alter-ego, Percy Q Shun is a wonderfully outlandish character creation that drives the flamboyant energy and entertainment that intersplices the show. But the actual meat of How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun is actually Haimbach’s own accounts of his childhood femininity in small town 1980s America. These moments are so wonderfully thoughtful and honest that you just can’t help but be entranced by them. There’s a real sense of sincerity and genuine reflection from Haimbach meaning that you’re drawn into his life story and are totally with his message about acceptance.

The real cleverness about How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun is not that it’s trying to denounce or beautify any one idea of masculinity. Haimbach’s story is in essence about identity and acceptance, from coping with being an effeminate middle-school pupil, to the comments from both family and friends about having an Afro-American bestie. Throughout How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun the message is not about subverting superiority or aggressively taking down non-sissies, but simply about the importance of being who you are and allowing others to be who they are: a central lesson of How to be a Sissy is literally, “Don’t be a dick!”

There’s virtually nothing that I can find fault with this perfectly formed and humble show. The references to retro American culture might go over the heads of younger and/or more Anglo-centric audiences, but they’re never such a key feature of what Haimbach is trying to say in any part of How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun that you become lost: even if you don’t know who Farrah Fawcet was (although, why wouldn’t you)! But other than that, Percy Q Shun is a masterful mentor on your journey to sissidom whose lesson really resonates.

Verdict

How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun is as good a lesson as you can get on how to be a free and fabulous you: sign up immediately!

How to be a Sissy with Percy Q Shun plays at C Royale until 28 August. For information about shows times and tickets, visit tickets.edfringe.com.