Time – various (run ends 27th Aug, not 14th, 21st)
As the companion piece to Adam [reviewed earlier this month by Tony Challis] Jo Clifford and Chris Goode have written Eve, in which Jo traces her relationship with John, the ‘other side’ of herself. Choosing not to fictionalise her story, but to present it in person, she explores the stages by which she has come to acceptance of both parts of herself, rather than burying her former self and denying his existence (as many trans people, including my ex-partner, choose to do).
Jo uses photographs from John’s childhood, adolescence, and married life to open windows on significant parts of his story, and shows us that Jo is there too, alongside the rage and tears and shame – but hidden, because even at an early age John knew it was not safe to talk about the disconnect he felt from the face he saw in the mirror, and the body he inhabited.
The hurts go deep. The casual abuse, the sniggering laughter, the cruel taunts… The inhumane attitude of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York to Jo’s request for a gender-neutral toilet, and the gauntlet of open office doors that she had to run every time she went to visit the gender clinic on her way to ‘prove’ that she was a ‘valid’ case for surgery – not so very long ago, either. I hope things have improved in recent years – but the play needs to be seen and heard as a reminder of the hurt people deal out in what they see as the cause of respectability.
Jo remembers how John loved acting at school, and how he felt completely alive in the female roles he played: but how, at age eighteen, he shut that door and only now has been able to re-open it. The actress Jo has such talent that I have to feel it a great pity that the world was deprived of the actor John. Simply dressed, on a very simple set, she tells her and John’s story: the audience were gripped, and moved, and, I hope, changed, if only a little.
In her introduction to the play script, Jo writes that Eve is an act of resistance against hatred, fear, and shame – all of which she has felt in the past. She sees telling her story openly, and with pride, as “the best way to resist shame”. Living in Scotland, her existence is protected by law, and she reminds us of the many countries in the world where people – not only trans people – are at risk of torture and death. She dedicates the play
To my sisters and brothers who live in such places.
And to everyone everywhere struggling to become their own dear selves
and live free from fear and free from shame.
Hallelujah and amen! Thank you, Jo: may the rest of us have your courage to speak out and act, and together change the world, little by little.