‘Sh*pping and Fucking’

In a play about down-and-out characters living off junk food, cheep highs and rough sex, controversy keeps erupting over the play’s title, not its content.

Advertisements in the UK, the US and Canada for Shopping And Fucking have all had at least one asterisk, and up to six, in some instances, to neuter the word “fucking.”

“It’s hypocritical,” says Jim Millan of Crow’s Theatre, who’s directing the Canadian premiere. “It’s just newspapers taking a false moral position.

“We’re not selling drugs to children in the schoolyard; we’re marketing an adult play to adults.”

Because Shopping And Fucking is being mounted at the du Maurier Theatre Centre, Crow’s chose to comply with an industry agency that monitors all tobacco ads. It refused to allow “fucking” to appear with “du Maurier” on ads.

So even if a paper didn’t care about morphological propriety – like Xtra – Crow’s couldn’t allow it to run an ad with the real title of the play.

Hmm. Smoking’s okay but swearing isn’t?

It’s that kind of corporate sanctimony that Shopping And Fucking attempts to skewer.

“Just like 10 years ago with Unidentified Human Remains [the Brad Fraser play Crows produced in 1991], Shopping And Fucking feels like this exact sliver of time we’re living in.

“When everything’s reduced to a transaction – you negotiate a relationship, you shop for an identity – what are our lives filled with?,” says Millan. “It’s an inventive, scary and funny play.”

Shopping And Fucking.
$15-$30. Wed, Feb 3-20.
Du Maurier Theatre Centre.
231 Queens Quay W.
(416) 973-4000.

The contributor photo for Gordon Bowness

Gordon Bowness (he/him) is the executive editor of Xtra. With a 30-year career covering the LGBTQ2S+ community, Gordon is also the founding editor of Go Big magazine and In Toronto (now In Magazine). He is an English speaker and lives in Toronto.

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