Review By Isabella Olsson
The hint is in the name – this show is well and truly euphoric. Directed by Melbourne cabaret queens Mama Alto and Maude Davey, this variety show featuring the largest cast of trans and gender diverse performers in Australia was a joyous experience. As both a political act of strength and resilience and a celebration of trans voices, the show revels in comedy, silliness and glitter but isn’t afraid to be sincere when it needs to, with the result being a heartfelt and wholesome expression of identity.
The line-up features music, dance, poetry, burlesque, stand up, circus, as well as a series of monologues, all exploring facets of growing up and living as a gender diverse person in Australia. Some of it feels directed at cis Australia – a way of telling the stories and explaining the lived experience of people who are too often ignored, or repressed, or told to hide their identity. But even more so, it feels like an experience by trans folk, for trans folk, communicating not just the hardships but the joy of feeling entirely yourself. So much of the joy of the show comes from the fact that the largely queer audience can relate intimately with the experiences being shared onstage, from the moving stories of transition and self-realisation, to the one liners about the difficulty of expressing non-binary to a robot, to the sweeping ballads that take on new meaning in the hands of gender diverse performers. Mama Alto’s breathtaking rendition of The Pretenders’ I’ll Stand By You was particularly moving, with her jaw dropping range and mesmerising stage presence used to full effect, and Mahla Bird’s kaleidoscopic aerialist piece was a crowd favourite.
In a time where we hear, all too often, about the tragedies experienced by gender diverse people, Gender Euphoria is a celebration of the love and joy in the trans community, and a reminder that ultimately the fight for LGBTQ rights is a fight for the freedom to feel not just comfortable, but euphoric in your own skin. Maybe most importantly, Gender Euphoria puts trans stories in the spotlight, not just on stage but in our culture. We are reminded that stories about transition are universal, and that in this way, trans and gender diverse people represent something quintessentially human.
Gender Euphoria played at the Seymour Centre as part of Mardi Gras Festival.
All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.