Pleasance Courtyard – The Attic
Co-authors and performers of 52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals, Charli Cowgill and Laurie Ward met fortuitously on a double date when their partners, who were already friends, planned an outing all together. With the guys eventually out of the picture, the girls were left with a lovely friendship that is also beautifully portrayed in the show.
Used to seeing the LGBTQ+ community frequently celebrated on stage for its uninhibited sexuality, this work goes in a completely opposite direction. With a mashup of dance, storytelling, verbatim and recorded accounts, we are let into a deeply personal dimension, drenched with unprocessed feelings and unspoken emotions. Beyond the fun appearance, sex doesn’t always provide validation, but instead generates shame; BDSM feels straightforwardly abusive and womanhood sucks – even for those who have chosen it. Bursting stereotypes of sexual liberation for being synonymous of promiscuity, Charli and Laurie yearn for stable relationships and motherhood: asking to be loved for who they are, rather than used to satisfy some sort of hardcore fantasy.
The bright pink of the set, props, lighting and costumes jars with the coarseness of the content. This is not a fairytale with a ‘happily ever after’ ending, but a stomach-churning depiction of reality. The crescendo of abuse the contributors describe uses both explicit wording and graphic representations. There is a particular occurrence that is intended to provoke disgust, and does so in the most effective way. When it happens, a collective gasp comes from the audience. It is a hard-hitting scene which doesn’t feel out of place – trigger warnings are clearly stated at the beginning of the show. It is a powerful statement of how determined the performers are to make their voice heard.
Towards the end, Charli and Laurie explain that it is hard to feel “proud” when looking at what the journey entails and I feel a sense of discomfort running through me, as if my chair had been suddenly electrified. This life-affirming show certainly doesn’t pull any punches and is not one I will easily forget!
Written by: Charli Cowgill and Laurie Ward
Directed by: Ilona Sell
Produced by: Nothing More To Say
52 Monologues for Young Transsexuals plays at EdFringe 2023 until 28 August, 3:20pm at Pleasance Courtyard. Further information and bookings here.