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Kel MacDonald in 'Get Yourself Home Skyler James'. Photo: Maggie Paquette.

Fringe Review: Get Yourself Home Skyler James

By Kate Carmanico on June 15, 2019



Get Yourself Home Skyler James
by Jordan Tannahill (prod. The Precariat)
40min / Solo / Drama / Comedy

Written in 2009 by eminent Canadian playwright Jordan Tannahill, Get Yourself Home Skyler James provides a real look at discrimination based on sexual orientation in the armed forces.

Performed by Kel MacDonald and directed by Hilary Peck, the solo play follows the real-life journey of 19-year-old Private Bethany Smith, better known as Skyler James, who defects from the army after being outed as a lesbian and suffering harassment and death threats from fellow soldiers on the base.

The stage, set in a bare-boned corner of the University of Ottawa’s Studio 2201, zeroes in on commercial steel double doors behind which our protagonist’s imagined scene partner has presumably locked herself for some time.

The script is masterfully written. From the outset, the audience is thrown in the midst of a candid one-sided conversation with next to no information save our whereabouts: the basement of an Ottawa KFC. As the play unfolds, we’re left to piece together the transfixing narrative for ourselves.

The script is masterfully written.

Despite its harrowing content, there are many comedic nuggets sprinkled throughout the play. Had they been explored further, I think these moments of light-hearted humour would have stood out against a heavy backdrop and made for a more nuanced performance. Listed under comedy and drama, this interpretation definitely errs on the serious side.

This play made waves across the Fringe circuit and beyond. It’s absolutely worth seeing, if only for 40 minutes of beautiful playwriting and a story that deserves to be heard.

Get Yourself Home Skyler James by Jordan Tannahill is playing at Studio 2201 (10 Daly Ave) until Saturday June 22, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at