Review: 52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals, VAULT Festival

Nothing More To Say’s 52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals is an eye-opening and insightful hour at the VAULT Festival

“I want this to be a validating experience for you. Can I suck your…?”

How to encapsulate the trans experience in an hour-long show? By constructing 52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals obviously. Writer/performers Laurie Ward and Charli Cowgill, along with director Ilona Sell, clearly have an eye (and a receptacle) for the outré – we’re asked if we would spit into a cup as we enter the Studio – and the theatrical, but also have a real sense of purpose here.

Blending verbatim theatre with something approaching cabaret (of course there’s lipsyncs…), the show speaks of hard-won experience and with so much of the contemporary discourse being as it is, how else could it be. What elevates this over any number of clickbaity thinkpieces though is the authenticity of its voice and its desire to illuminate and illustrate, rather than incite.

Unafraid of presenting duelling opinions – differing takes on what make-up is used for, existential questions on being a woman versus looking like a woman, the desirability of ‘passing’ – and complex scenarios, particularly where sexuality is concerned, there’s a real sense of how much has to be negotiated in the day-to-day life of so many trans people.

Interactions with potential lovers on dating apps, misogynistic exchanges with actual lovers that prove erotic, choreography that dances around the carefulness with which they have to negotiate physical space, the necessary sense of humour to try and help navigate the psychological challenges of just existing. One might wish that time will bring more shows about trans-womanhood that can move beyond the sexual realm but you certainly hope Nothing More To Say are among those telling them.

Running time: 50 minutes (without interval)
52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals is booking at VAULT Festival until 12th February

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