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Review: Transwoman Kills Influencer at La Mama Courthouse

Review by Stephanie Lee

From the moment you step into the theatre there is a sense of mystery in the air. There are wisps of smoke, a darkly lit living room and four distinct characters posing behind a set of opened blinds. 

Transwoman Kills Influencer, a brilliantly named show for Midsumma Festival, is the latest play by Dax Carnay. It is a murder mystery comedy centred around the Rashomon effect, cleverly highlighting that the truth depends on who you ask and how they view the world. We are told that pro-man influencer Alejandro (Vateresio Tuikaba) has disappeared, and his rumoured lover and trans businesswoman Denise (Dax Carnay) is suspected of murder, as the first version of events unfolds from the perspective of Denise’s drag queen assistant Bryle (Ryan Henry). The story is played out three more times from three more perspectives: Jen (Khema De Silva) who is Denise’s ‘friend’ and co-worker, then Alejandro’s, before finally Denise’s where all is eventually revealed. 

The performances were honestly a hoot, both screen and live, with the ensemble working well together to create different versions of the same events. Watching the way that each character viewed the others manifest in completely different versions of each character every time the scenes played again was hilarious and yet so accurate in how your own perception of someone shapes your judgement of their actions. While all had their moment to shine, Dax Carnay as Denise and Ryan Henry as Bryle were often hilarious as a duo on stage. Although worthy of a mention for screen acting is the interview exclusive featuring Khema De Silva’s character Jen that was ridiculously funny in its pacing and delivery. 

Director Emmanuelle Mattana interweaves the online breaking of the disappearance in the play with the live replay of events beautifully, utilising Filipe Filihia’s set design seamlessly. The opened blinds we see upon entrance are quickly shut and used wonderfully as a projection screen throughout the piece, allowing the audience to see snippets of the footage littering the internet after the big disappearance. The way Mattana has crafted the space, design and acting to all come together to shift the scene multiple times is almost cinematic, which I think really suits the murder mystery genre. 

Filipe Filihia’s set and costumes create lush, high-class imagery with a marbled floor and art hanging on walls in the living room, which forms the main part of the set. The blinds were not only projected on but also used to let the audience see through into hallway scenes when opened or to give the impression of a police station. Helping with the transformation and feeling of moving through different versions of events was the lighting design by Lara Gabor and Chiara Wenban, and sound design by Owen Kelly. Lighting and sound really added to the mood of the different sections of the work, letting the audience in more to each person’s recollection of events. 

I really enjoyed many aspects of this play but perhaps most I liked the use of AV design. The videos peppered throughout the work were highly entertaining and were weirdly the most ‘truthful’ aspects of what was portrayed, as the audience were able to watch and come to their own conclusions of the characters without a skewing of events from them. I guess at the end of the day it is what you choose to see and your own bias shapes the way you see your truth, so maybe we never actually found the true reason behind the disappearance.

The piece certainly makes an interesting commentary on transrights and how people’s words can be heard differently depending on perspective. It is certainly a timely work with the rise of social media creating polarisation and hate rooted in deep bias or lack of understanding (sometimes an unwillingness to understand others). Dax Carnay certainly has packed a punch with this fabulous play, so be sure to grab tickets before you miss out!

Image Supplied


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