Review: Too Pretty To Punch, VAULT Festival

Some stunning animation work makes Too Pretty To Punch a powerful exploration of growing up trans at the VAULT Festival

“I am a human through and through
Whether I am or not is nothing to do with you”

You want to say it gets better, and it many ways it does. But for every two steps forward in the case of advancing LGBT+ – and specifically trans – awareness and acceptance, there’s at least one step back – just look at Suzanne Moore’s Guardian-sanctioned transphobia this very week.

So taking the opportunity to actually listen to trans voices, to experience just a little of what it might be like to be on the receiving end of such opinions, has never felt more significant. Transgender/non-binary multimedia performer’s Edalia Day’s Too Pretty To Punch offers such a chance right now, as they explore the experience of growing up trans in a society that is just a little too keen on people fitting neatly into boxes.

It’s an ambitious and highly varied hour of theatre which contains some moments of true artistic endeavour. The use of interactive video is stunningly and inventively done, suggesting the trauma of being at the heart of a Twitterstorm or the prevalence of the feminine ‘ideal’ that comes from too many magazines. And ceding the spotlight of the finale to other trans/enby voices simply reinforces the power of Day’s message here 

Other aspects work less well. Playing both sides of a conversation with a bolshy audience member doesn’t come off, and the small moments of audience participation feel incongruous and underdeveloped. Combined with that brilliant animation, I’d wager Day’s skill at spoken word, through poetry and also song, is more than enough to make their message heard.


Running time: 60 minutes (without interval)
Photos: Elmar Rubio
Too Pretty To Punch is booking at the VAULT Festival until 8th March

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