Wiry, tattooed and dressed like a boxer, a short, slim man appears onstage and begins to sing the Jungle Book’s ‘I Wanna Be Like You’ into a warped mirror: ‘You see it’s true/ an ape like me/ can learn to be/ human too..’ This is Kit Redstone, who has recently transitioned to male. Redstone is author and star of Testosterone, a daring, funny, brilliant play about what it’s like to be transgender and go through the process of transitioning. With an open, earnest manner, he narrates finding his way in the new world of the men’s changing room. Over the course of an hour, his thoughts come colourfully to life onstage through song, dance, drag and more.
Kit Redstone’s performance as himself is, unsurprisingly, honest, but also endearing and fascinating. He ties together the wonderful ensemble around him that take on many different roles, from other guys in the locker room to doctors administering testosterone. This skilled ensemble consists of Julian Spooner, who gives a particularly memorable performance at one point impersonating Marlon Brando/Stanley Kowalski, Matthew Wells (movement director and, in the play, general sporty guy) and Daniel Jacob, who spends most of the show in drag and seems to embody the female.
It showcases Rhum and Clay Theatre Company (which produced this show and of which Spooner and Wells are the artistic directors), which was formed at the Ecole Jacques Lecoq in Paris, which teaches physical theatre, mime, commedia dell’arte and similar disciplines. The cast has amazing physicality and every scene is well-choreographed. The play fuses theatre, dance, music and more to create an unusual and absorbing performance and references everything from The Magic Flute to M.I.A. – the cultural influences form an approachable and entertaining mix.
Testosterone is an important piece of theatre. In a whimsical, creative, non-preachy way, it explores an individual’s trans experience and asks questions such as whether Kit should hold on to ‘the woman inside’ and at what exact point he became a man. Refreshingly, the play does not focus mainly on the accepting or damning reactions of others and how society treats transgender people. It is much more about Kit’s own mind and thoughts, his way of processing his transition and his personal questioning of what it means to be a man.
Testosterone is playing Pleasance Courtyard until August 27th. For more information and tickets, see https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/testosterone.