In a theatrical concoction of jazzed-up gender norms and genitalia, Kate O’Donell’s take on the traditional “play” is every bit as liberal as her disregard for archaic criteria of being a woman.
The writer, actress and director of Trans-Creative’s You’ve Changed takes sole spot on stage to provide more of an autobiographical monologue, sequinned with crude witticisms and 30s dance interludes.
She enters in full suit and tails attire- an androgynous Mr. Gatsby- normalising her identity to those trans-unacquainted with a hilarious recount of reactions from her clueless friends and family. The soreness of last decade’s lack of acceptance (from the likes even of her “pagan lesbian cousin”!) is poignant: an important societal truth she masterfully balances with self-deprecating humour and theatrics, dancing away the shockingly ill-informed comments of GPs and psychiatrists in a shameless display of sax-accompanied jazz hands.
less a play and more a visually and intellectually sumptuous extravaganza
A visual iteration of O’Donell’s emotional intimacy is liberating, as she kicks off first her shoes, next her tailored trousers. The audience witnesses her growth into an empowering progressive in fishnet tights, free from the trappings of buckled-up masculinity. She continues to ridicule this reduction of gender to the vital “op” in a Q and A session with the vagina itself, positioned at the centre of a miniature puppet-theatre complete with red velvet curtains and shamelessly spotlighted. O’Donell addresses the often tactless curiosity about her genitalia with an ingenious satire that is victoriously direct.
You’ve Changed is characteristically unconventional: less a play and more a visually and intellectually sumptuous extravaganza that challenges, with remarkable rawness, the need for gender conventions at all. It is about a transition, not only of personal growth from a man to a woman, but of societal growth from the then to the now. “Being trans in the naughties felt more like being trans in 1930s”- and Kate O’Donnell showed it, transforming what was a Great Depression into a Golden Age in a one-woman production of style, charisma and a unique, unapologetic genre of artistic flare
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