It’s the first golden rule when dealing with Larry Shue’s comedy The Nerd, in which the bratty character who gets spanked can be named either Thor (male) or Thora (female) Waldgrave. But you may be thunderstruck to know that even with Thor the spanking scene may not be entirely uninteresting…
In March 2012, The Nerd was the annual play at the Center for Jewish Life at Princeton. Now, brace yourself. Here’s Thor being spanked:
Now take a closer look at the target area:
This Thor’s a girl!
What we’re observing here is a mismatch between the gender of the character and that of the performer, which can be awkward or appealing depending on how it’s handled. Let’s take another example, from the 2014 production at the Shenandoah Theatre. To play Waldgrave’s son Thor, they cast the actor’s teenage daughter. And to make it absolutely obvious that she’s a girl, here she is onstage in a different show:
And here she is being spanked in the role of Thor:
For an even more striking act of male impersonation, off we go to Windsor, Ontario, where the University Players produced The Nerd in 2015, again with an actress playing Thor. Here she is across her onstage father’s knee:
It’s such an effective gender-swapping performance that we really need to see what she looks like offstage:
Hmm… Personally I’d much rather have seen her play Thora!