Seeking sanctuary in the middle of the night at the home of a potential adversary is a cavalier act to say the least. When the young, androgynously named Rowan (Shane Convery), who’s been sleeping rough for 6 months in a no man’s land of transgender life, chaps at the door of middle aged feminist writer and activist Martine (Jennifer Black), what follows could be an entry to a lioness’s lair.
Rowan’s seemingly random choice turns out to be a calculated one and is the vehicle for the controversial arguments around transgender issues to be played out mainly as a two hander with superlative performances from both Black and Convery, who is still a final year student. The veteran Women’s Aid worker and campaigner for female justice is now called, like Germaine Greer in real life, a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist to those in the know). She is brought up short at every turn with equally militant arguments from the other side as the two bicker with the ferocity of an old married couple instead of strangers. Martine seems to be paying a high price for giving hospitality to a cuckoo in her albeit spacious nest, being accused of being a ‘dragon with a clipboard’ when she tries to get a handle on her uninvited guest.
Clara Glynn has clearly researched her subject and seems au fait with the increasingly relevant arguments and surrounding controversies like the stifling of free speech in academia through safe spaces that Martine is a victim of. She gives her characters some great lines like Rowan’s ‘Are you the pants police?’ and letting Martine accuse Rowan of making a ‘classic male dick move’ with her aggressive arguments even when in a dress, but the piece feels overly didactic.
Boy Meets Girl written by Elliott Kerrigan for television was a successful comedy with a transgender actor and central character that managed to cover issues with a lighter touch. Glynn’s play is an altogether more serious look at this challenging topic.
Nina Simone’s Ain’t got no, I got Life that played before the start of the performance pretty much sums up how valuing being alive is what matters most.
Despite their diametrical views, Martine gives Rowan a place to breathe, putting humanity first.
Tuesday 2nd May – Saturday 6th May, 1pm; Fri 7th May at 7pm age recommend 14+