Gender issues are both relevant and prevalent at Fringe 2015 with many shows focussing on its issues and themes. For the mainstream masses who like to dip their toe in the lukewarm water of the subject and feel they are pushing their own boundaries there is always the Ladyboys to gawp at but for those who want something which focuses on the real life problems and concerns then this excellent play by Paul Lucas which uses the words of real life transgender women to great and challenging effect is far more worthwhile and in its own way just as glamorous.
With a stark stage with only five boxes strewn casually around, the show begins with childhood reflections and the first stirrings of gender difference. Different eras from the late fifties to the present day are referred to showing the generational span of the women being represented here. One thing that each era seems to recognise is that people tend to talk about them rather than to them and that the sense of difference is there from pretty early on in life.
With the five actresses on stage weaving their stories in and out of each other a great cohesion is achieved even though each of their own individual experiences is very different.
Agreeing on the fact that the Stonewall riots of 1969 were the major factor on the gay revolution of the seventies were originally started by the transgender population of New York at this time. However frustration set in when the whole movement got co-opted by white gay males, who claimed it as their own and in the process ostracised the transgender revolutionaries who actually set the ball rolling, setting their cause back years as an outcome. Therefore whilst gay men became more and more socially acceptable and absorbed into culture transgender women felt themselves more and more exiled into some sort of social Siberia. Despite this setback empowerment from being transgender is one of the things this play celebrates and recognises and there is recognition also that women have been fighting for basic rights for even longer than they have so one step forward usually always means several steps back.
At one point an argument erupts amongst the women on stage when it is revealed that many transgender women do not go for full genital reconstruction surgery. Accusations and recriminations ensue and it becomes clear that the reason why so many don’t go the full way is because their outward appearance is more important than genital surgery as this allows them to blend in and disappear.
Trans Scripts is an extremely powerful, interesting and intelligent piece of work which leaves its audience feeling enlightened, exhilarated and enthralled. A standing ovation greeted the performers at its dénouement as the performances, script and setting all melded together to create a show which is totally worthwhile.
Trans Scripts is at the Pleasance Courtyard at 3pm daily until August 31st