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The Genre-bending Queer Love Story: ‘RED RED RED’

Updated: May 09, 2024 09:55
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The legend of Heracles has long been a part of our collective consciousness. Heracles, son of Zeus, that divine hero who tiptoes through mainstream references. There he is, slaying the Nemean Lion and clearing the Augean Stables. Here is Heracles stealing the girdle of Hippolyta Queen of the Amazons. Does this mean that he stole Wonder Woman’s mother’s panties?

It doesn’t matter! He’s our manly hero forevermore! And finally, here is Heracles murdering his wife and children. Here is our champion who, according to Plutarch, had a list of lovers that ‘went beyond numbering’. It’s within these mythical bedpost notches that we encounter Red otherwise known as Geryon portrayed by the remarkable Romeo Channer at Oakland Theater Project’s “RED RED RED”.

Romeo Channer as Red.Oakland Theater Project’s world premiere production of Red Red Red by Amelio Garcia. Photo credit: Ben Krantz Studio

We meet Red, a transmasc youth, in his bedroom. He lays among debris of junk food wrappers, discarded clothes and books. In Greek Myth Geryon is a triple-bodied, red-winged monster, slayed by Heracles or “H” as he is called here,  on his tenth labor. He was the grandson of Medusa and the proud owner of a herd of fancy red cattle and a nifty two-headed dog. That is, until “H” swings by and kills the dog, steals the cattle, takes Red as a lover, and then abandons him. Well, in the myth he kills him but to this iteration of Red, abandonment just might be the same thing.

Anthony Doan (left) as H and Romeo Channer (right). Oakland Theater Project’s world premiere production of Red Red Red by Amelio Garcia. Photo credit: Ben Krantz Studio.

The clever set is designed by Christopher Fitzer. The bed that Red lays on is tilted toward a perilous drop as Red recounts his tale of heartbreak as only an adolescent first experiencing love can. The audience can’t help but be concerned that he will fall into the void as he careens toward it. Abused by his older brother, dismissed by his mother, abandoned by “H” and befriended by a stewardess named Ana (all played brilliantly by Anthony Doan) Red is barely holding steady in his depression den. We journey with Red as he describes his love for Heracles. Our hearts hurt as we see intimately just how one-sided the affair is. “I am not a reliable narrator,” Red tells us with his heart on his sleeve.

Romeo Channer as Red. Oakland Theater Project’s world premiere production of Red Red Red by Amelio Garcia. Photo credit: Ben Krantz Studio

H is the embodiment of masculine emotional expectations, with no heart to give, while Red spins about him in orbit forever seeking the validation he will never receive. “RED RED RED” is a uniquely queer story of finding self in a world of binary ideals.

Directed by William Thomas Hodgson, written by Amelio Garcia and based on Anne Carson’s novel Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse “RED RED RED” gives us much food for thought. I am always one for stories that kick the ideals of Patriarchy to the curb and this play does an admirable job.

Red Red Red : World Premiere 

by Amelio Garcia
inspired by Anne Carson

directed by William Thomas Hodgson

Performances: Thu / Fri / Sat / Sun through May 19 (Thu, Fri, Sat at 7:30 p.m., Sun at 2 p.m.)

Tickets: $10—60 online; tickets at or by calling 510.646.1126.

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Vita Hewitt

Vita Hewitt

Vita is a half Chinese-Malaysian, photograph taking, plant foraging, vegetable garden growing, astronaut impersonating, conceptual art creating Bay Area human. She loves exploring the intricacies of the Bay Area Art Scene.