Written by Emmanuel Darley
Translated by Matthew Hurt and Sarah Vermande
Tangled Web Productions
HOME Theatre, First Street
Tuesday 20th January – Thursday 22nd January 2015
HOME theatre’s Re:play Festival revives a selection of fringe productions from the last year, including this gem of a monologue in which Pauline, a trans woman, conjures up her weekly visits to her grumpy old father. The show is bookended by atmospheric film footage – first the greyscale suburban drag of Pauline’s train journey home, and then, at the play’s conclusion, some beautiful archive footage of a young boy and his father. The set is simple, just a spindly chair in front of the projection screen, in the equally unfussy environment of HOME’s repurposed office space. Pauline cuts a striking figure in this blankness, resplendent in blood-red minidress and heels. Everybody stares at her when she goes home, she tells us – and so her story begins to unspool.
Scott Kentell gives us a funny and recognisable Pauline, ably balancing her insecurity in her old home town and her pride in her female identity, but also, through many impersonations, sketches a portrait of her awkward and disgruntled father. The monologue has an engaging back-and-forth quality as Pauline skips between acting out these fractious Tuesday visits – doing the laundry, walking the aisles at Tesco – and talking to us in asides.
Despite centring on the sensitive topic of gender transition, and capturing the many tensions between aging parents and their grown-up children, the whole thing feels endearingly gentle, mediated through Pauline’s soft tones and intimate, entre-nous humour. That only makes the play’s ending come as more of a shock, as Pauline tells us why she will never go back to her father’s again. We feel we have come to know a friend and then are losing her as we watch the archive footage that closes the play, two little boys frolicking on the beach, overlaid on Pauline’s face. A reflection on identity, history, family and community, this is a powerful performance and a pleasure to watch.