Co-directed by Charles O’Grady and Finn Davis
Kings Cross Theatre, Kings Cross Hotel
244-248 William Street, Potts Point
Season: 22 February – 4 March
Charles O’Grady, Kaleidoscope’s writer and co-director, informally introduces the show and invites the audience to join the cast (of one) and creatives for a drink afterwards. He does so with a mind of continuing a dialogue, spring boarding from the discussion in the play, developing understanding about gender identities that break away from the rigid binary of male and female heterosexuality. In the process of creating a theatrical work centring on the perspective and experience of Gabe, a trans guy, and then warmly embracing audiences of all backgrounds to continue the conversation, these artists display resounding courage and compassion whereby so many people respond with intolerance and fear, driven by ignorance. While not all may be able to relate to Gabe’s experience, I think it is for that very reason that we all should listen.
The show abounds with insightful content, reflecting the bounty of frank discussion desperately required regarding the challenges experienced by transgender people. However, the show would benefit from being shortened to prevent the most pertinent points from being lost in a sea of ideas. I can see this show being a labour of love, and there being a reluctance to let go of the text carefully crafted. Yet to pack the hardest punch, so to speak, repetition and the show’s length would best be reduced for ultimate impact. The story told in this production is deeply personal and allows the audience into Gabe’s head, almost to the extent of a stream of consciousness at points, airing out his anxieties, frustrations, hopes and desires. Oliver Ayres sustains the level of performance for the entire 1 hour and 45 minutes, which is a mammoth task for a solo performer. He tackles the task with sensitivity and focus, however some added variation in the performance would enhance audience engagement.
Kaleidoscope is set in Gabe’s bedroom, allowing us to observe Gabe waking up and getting dressed for the day. It is amazing that such a simple task can be fraught with so much complexity, revealing the weighty significance to Gabe of the details of life which are mundane to so many. And yet, at the end of the day, Gabe is just another guy, getting on with his life. If everyone resolved to hold less firmly to the expectations wrapped up with gender and sexuality, I think we could all relate and care for one another astronomically more, as everyone is released from internal and external pressures to fit unyielding social constructs. But to get there, it’s a conversation we must continue to have - on the stage, and beyond.