Eve is an autobiographical play by Jo Clifford, a woman here to tell us about a story of growing up and of realisation. She uses this play to explore her lived experience of what is means to realise you are transgender in a world and time period which does not even acknowledge the existence of trans people.
She successfully upsets the narrow narrative that we are usually told, of coming out and having surgery before you can accept yourself. Instead, Clifford tells a story with all its nuances, complications and grey areas. Throughout the play, she addresses past photos of herself and those she has loved in order to communicate the story, allowing us snapshots into her life which are intimate and touching. Jo Clifford allows us deeply personal insights into her life, with all its losses, realisations and hardships laid bare.
Her delivery demands our silence as she takes us through her experiences. The play is rightfully angry one moment, then warm the next. Though her tone is almost conversational at times, it is also engaging. She keeps her audience captivated and moves through stories of failing to fit in at school and of the ordeals transgender people face, even when trying to do something as simple as use a public toilet.
She confronts us, unapologetically, with the everyday struggles faced by trans people, and delivers hard truths that need to be voiced.
Clifford plays with time and chronology in clever and original ways. Part of what makes her play so interesting is the way in which she moves back and forth with her storytelling. Rather than giving us the straightforward narrative that we are used to hearing, she questions and complicates that story.
Though this is primarily a play which confronts the discrimination and oppression which trans people continue to experience, it is also a story of hope. The moments in which Jo Clifford’s talent with words shine through are when she celebrates the liberation she has experienced through truly expressing herself. Her movements and words on stage communicate the resilience and bravery involved with being yourself in a world that tells you that is invalid.
This is a play that asks us to think about and reflect on ourselves as well as the world surrounding us.
Eve played at Traverse Theatre until August 27. For more information, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/eve