RECENT news stories, such as Donald Trump’s tweets about transgender people in the US military and controversies over gender neutral bathrooms, have meant transgender issues and rights are frequently being discussed and debated in the mainstream media.
Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre is known for championing brave new work and the company have begun to shine a light on trans issues.
Eve, a new play from Jo Clifford and Chris Goode, is an autobiographical one-woman show which details Jo’s childhood, adulthood, parenthood and eventual transition to living as a woman.
The staging with Eve is very simple. Jo is the centre and heart of the production, padding about barefoot in her long grey dress.
The play is also co-written by Jo and there’s a refreshing truth and straight-forwardness to her performance. This is her story, in her own words.
If you nip to the loo at the theatre, you’ll find there’s signs on the toilets saying: “The Traverse Theatre aims to be a trans and non-binary inclusive space and as such we encourage patrons to please use the facilities that best fit their gender identity or expression.”
In the play, Jo details the awkwardness, confusion and the hurt that can come from not knowing where you fit – in life and also when it comes to something seemingly small like picking which toilet queue to join.
Jo took us through episodes in her life where visiting the loo left her in fear – “I mustn’t cough” – and humiliated after asking to use a gender neutral toilet in an opera house.
It’s fitting therefore that the Traverse have committed not only to a programme that explores trans issues but also have set about ensuring their venue is an inclusive space. After learning of Jo’s journey, through oppressive boarding schools, bereavements and loneliness, it’s comforting to think that some of those going through the same things today can find a haven in the Traverse.
Effective in its stripped-back approach, the play highlights trans issues and the complexities of gender identity by simply relating a personal, human story. Honest and beautiful.
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