Wednesday 21 August 2019

Travesty at The New Theatre, Dublin: Gender binaries get good pummelling

Travesty
Travesty

Katy Hayes

English comedian Liam Williams' debut play, a clever 90-minute drama about falling in love, premiered in Edinburgh in 2016. Performed in or around a double bed, it charts the journey of working-class Ben and rich-kid Anna's relationship; initial heady dates are followed by tentative declarations of love, then on to more complex relationship nitty-gritty.

The spin on this conventional story is that Ben is played by a woman and Anna is played by a man. Thus, the mild gender stereotyping of the two characters, which would be invisible if the actors were the usual gender, screams out from the stage. Ben is clumsy at hanging up clothes on a clothes horse. Anna is wimpy and timid at work.

Dublin company The Corps Ensemble and The New Theatre give the play an Irish spin in this committed production with two hugely impressive performances from Siobhán Callaghan and Fionntán Larney.

The writing is best for the male character, here played by the female actor. Director Jed Murray steers the action with subtlety and passion, doing a terrific job with all the physicality.

The apparent question being posed here is whether these two humans have what it takes to settle down, but the real dramatic relish is found in the gender binaries getting a good pummelling.

Travesty The New Theatre, Dublin Until July 20

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