Review: Sound Cistem, VAULT Festival

As part of VAULT Festival, Plaster Cast Theatre have come all the way from Manchester to perform at London’s fringe festival. Transgender and non-binary performers Lizzie Morris and Ayden Brouwers have developed a movement piece that is not only astonishing to see, but also incredibly important – it is a celebratory performance of what it means to be trans or non-binary. 

Sound Cistem is everything at once – a rave party, physical theatre, a documentation and a spectacle. The two performers have put together a show that burns with passion and anger, and every second of it is as expressive as can be. Combined with bass and techno music are the testimonials of members of the trans and non-binary community expressing their fears and feelings. Mixed together, it sounds like an experimental composition with a distinct rhythm. A rhythm that takes over the performers and soon after also the audience.

The testimonials are not sugar-coated or superficially brushed over. They take the spectator into the world of the trans and non-binary community, express the problems and issues surrounding it but also show the love that goes along with it all. Love for being accepted, love for accepting your own body when other people judge it every second of the day. It serves as a record of all things trans and is a celebration in its totality. 

Throughout the show, it is not rare that I find myself with a lump in my throat considering all the stories I’m suddenly exposed to, having been oblivious for so long. And it is important to expose them. It is impossible that we live in a society where a large part of society is not accepted for who they are. And just like it is essentially said in Sound Cistem: my gender is my own concern; it does not affect anyone but myself.

Alongside the incredibly important messages that are conveyed to the audience in a sweaty club atmosphere, it is also worth noting the immense physical delivery Morris and Brouwers offer to the audience. In a precisely choreographed dance performance, they physically accompany the voices around us. They dance, they sweat, they expose their strengths and weaknesses, they fight, and they struggle. 

We join them on a night out, as they find themselves having to struggle with expectations put upon them by other people, as they are constantly battling with their own emotions and everyone else’s. 

It is no surprise that the performers break down at the end – having had to fight against everything and everyone for so long. Sound Cistem conveys a strong message: it is much more draining to (have to) fight all the time, rather than just accepting that everyone is different, and that everyone can choose who they want to be.

Sound Cistem is playing the VAULT Festival until 6 February. For more information and tickets, visit the VAULT Festival website.