Friday, 2 December 2016

REVIEW: Testosterone at New Diorama Theatre

Written and performed by Kit Redstone, Testosterone is the hilarious yet thought-provoking autobiographical account of an ordinary man – as we see him on stage – in the process of defining his own masculinity. 

It has been two years since Kit had his first injection of testosterone and he takes it to the stage to talk with the public about the externally unnoticeable divergence between looking like a man and behaving like one. 'What determines our perception of an individual?' – he asks – 'Their looks or their personality? Aren't they supposed to coincide?'. Not necessarily, as we are bound to learn.

With a series of flashbacks and pop-up gags – courtesy of Daniel Jacob and comedy duo Rhum and Clay (Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells) – Kit shares a few anecdotes that represent the milestones along the road of his gender reassignment.

We start in a gym: the very first time Kit enters a male changing room. A huge mirror covering the back wall, two locker units and a bench all around the stage contribute to set the scene. We listen to Kit's thoughts out loud while he tries to assess what makes the difference between men and women. He's observing the other guys and pinpointing the single gestures of camaraderie and mutual acknowledgement that help them to bond and interact with each other.

We keep travelling back and forth down his memory lane and we find ourselves at the school disco when, aged eleven, he experiences his first close contact with a boy but, instead of excitement, all he feels is awkwardness and the sensation of being in the wrong place. There is a sequence, right before that, where I get a bit lost. There, talented singer and gorgeous drag Daniel Jacob is a goddess who tries to highlight the privileges of being a woman but our sceptical lead kindly declines and moves on. That is the only point in the whole show where the script seems loose.

Finally, the answer to Kit's existential quest arrives during his first confrontation with another man: his tears are the only noticeable difference between a man and a woman. Someone
seemed to have denied the men the right to cry but his past as a female triggers an unexpected and unwanted reaction. But he's a man, he's not allowed to cry and, with time, he will learn this too.

Supported by Geoff Hense's ingenious lighting and sound and studded with the comic genius of Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells, Testosterone is an open-hearted performance and I'm grateful to Kit Redstone for deciding to give us an insight on his life experience.

Review by Marianna Meloni 

Rating: ★★★★

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