4 stars ****
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
FROM JO CLIFFORD’S Queen of Heaven at Summerhall to Manfred Karge’s Man To Man at Assembly Roxy, through new plays like Stef Smith’s Swallow and monologues like Fishamble’s astonishing Underneath, the story of the man or woman whose life cannot be defined by traditional, rigid views of gender is one of the key themes of this year’s Fringe. And it reaches what is probably its fullest, richest, most thrilling and most glamorous expression in this brand new show from New York producer Paul Lucas, in which six magnificent women – some well-known actors, some who have never appeared in front of an audience before – perform interlocking monologues, drawn from real-life interviews, which, taken together offer an extraordinarily complete, moving and satisfying account of what it means to be a transgender woman in the United States or Britain today.
Set on a stage furnished with simple boxes on which the women perch or occasionaly stand – but brought to life in a blaze of brilliant, riotous colour, also reflected in the costumes – Trans Scripts covers an extraordinary range of experience in a brief 90 minutes, ranging from chldhood awakenings, through the medical decisions surrounding transition, to the day-to-day dangers, irritations, and joys of beginning to live life as a woman.
What’s striking, though – in Linda Ames Key’s upfront, energised and beautifully-paced production – is how, as the women emerge and speak with ever more eloquence, this narrative of courage, change and new life comes to seem not only like a vital story in itself, but also one with huge resonances for for the whole idea of human freedom; for our right to resist the demands and pressures of society, whatever they are, and to begin the hazardous but essential process of change that leads to a life more truthful, more fulfilled, and more open to joy.