You’ve Changed, an auto-biographical story produced by Trans Creative and Contact, written and performed by Kate O’Donnell, is a personal account of one woman’s journey from having the body she was born with to the body that she identifies with. It has the cross-feel of stand-up and cabaret and combines music from the 1930s with a story from 2003, to show how the latter year, in trans-terms, didn’t feel a whole lot different from the early 1900s.
Kate is charming, sophisticated and manages to keep us clinging to her story without the need to raise her voice. She maintains a sort of mystery, beginning the show in tailcoat, white bow-tie and shiny black shoes. She looks ready to dance. She sings to us, not with a power-hungry voice, but with something more breakable. She doesn’t have a booming stage voice, yet there’s a confidence which shines through. Some of her vocal inflections in the dialogue seem odd, but it’s this very subtle absurdity in her delivery which draws us in and keeps us listening.
She is joined by fellow penguin-dressed dancer Sean Murray, who shares a beautifully choreographed Fred and Ginger style dance with her at the end of the show. Murray also helps in moving around the set, constructed of six black panels, which turn around to reveal mirrors surfaces, reflecting the audience and the stage lights, creating a misty ambience in the cabaret sections of the show.
O’Donnell is intimate and open with us. She speaks honestly about her experience, about the moment in 2003 when she knew she was transgender, about the wonky letter from her psychiatrist which approved her right to wear a dress and live as a woman; a letter which cost one hundred and eighty pounds, followed by surgery which cost over fourteen thousand pounds; surgery which she re-mortgaged her flat for. She does all of this with light comedy; justifying the re-mortgage on the form as for purposes of home improvements as she didn’t think ‘transgender’ would get her what she needed.
In one section, she stands behind a panel and a genital-level flap opens up to reveal her vagina in the midst of a set of red stage curtains. Someone in the audience is asked to read a list of questions. After the surgery, Kate won’t be able to ride a horse for a few months, but she ensures us she doesn’t plan on doing this anyway, but if she does, she would saddle it sideways.
Through the use of music, dance, charm and humour, Kate totally absorbs us with her story, which tells a frank reflection of the ups and downs of change and transitioning.