Review: Too Pretty to Punch, VAULT Festival

“A transgender warrior changes the world with nothing but a banjo and a killer pair of leather trousers”. Edalia Day’s piece Too Pretty to Punch creates its own genre of poetry and theatre through its politically and socially engaged pillars of conversation, song and comedy, and is deeply, deeply heart-breaking. 

Far too often are performances around sexuality and oppression felt by LBGTQIA+ community members shunned and disputed for being an academic preach, or nothing but a soapbox speaker trying to change the world by bringing justice to everyone who has projected their prejudice any time before now. Day takes on a new, innovative approach to calling out the vast social criminals who have taken to slander and abuse in an attempt to repress trans-exposure and existence, and the piece becomes a capsule of transphobia insight from the moment they first greet us. 

Through audience interaction, original song and amazing visual projection and animation, within the space of an hour, Day’s collision of genre and style, and the constant churning out of churn of gender politics poetry and anecdotal tales, takes audiences through an emotional and horrific voyage through the reality of coming out, and the difficulties faced by a transitioning individual by both outsiders and representatives of the LBGT community. 

Audiences are bombarded with visual and literature metaphors that keep the piece in a fantastical sphere whilst acting as acute descriptions and manifestations of the experiences felt by Day, and their trauma of “not fitting into a box that was decided for them since the moment they were born.” From hilarious criticism of the dangers of shaming in the fashion industry, to enactments of playground bullying, Day’s ability to embody outside characters is marvellous, and they grab the audience’s attention completely through this and through the form-hopping seen regularly in this type of cabaret theatre. 

The piece has a real feel of humility, whilst being electrically fierce in the moments of slam poetry, extremely funny with witty one liners and the calling out of the audience, and overwhelmingly sorrowful when looking at is as an auto-biographical truth-telling in the reality of the traumatic effects that shoe-horning someone into a gender or box they don’t feel they fit belong in. It’s not a piece for everyone, but is something that should be seen by all. There is no stone left unturned, with sequences around body transformation, puberty, femininity, masculinity, and glossy magazines, all in all Day creates a poignant and vital universe where the underlying message is shouted, which is that these ‘things’ that people are trying to pretend aren’t happening are not a fad –  people are just finally putting words to concepts that didn’t have their own words before.

Too Pretty to Punch is playing the VAULT Festival until 8 March. For more information and tickets, visit the VAULT Festival website.