Performed in the Pleasance Undergrand, 30 Birds multimedia production is undeniably aesthetically pleasing. However, in attempting to address transsexuality, plastic surgery, religion and Middle Eastern gender politics in just fifty-five minutes of movement and video, it manages to say nothing much at all.
Supposedly inspired by the story of a man who wants to become a woman and looking at Irans conservative legal attitude towards transgender issues, Plastic sees four technically talented performers lead the audience to a tea party, a urinal, a collection of blinds and a pickling lesson. Thats about it. The items used to signify gender (high heeled shoes, tea cups, bananas and floral print) are at best obvious, at worst utterly cliché, and the separation of the audience into men and women at the beginning of the show seems absurdly uninspired. No effort is exerted to make any of the performers signify other than their anatomical sex; even when one actress has her breasts bound and it seems we might see some gender dysphoria, when she turns her heavy make up, pencil skirt and stilettos allow for no ambiguity.
The dialogue is divided between tired references to women doing the cooking and unimaginative questions about the effects of a sex change operation. At no point does the performance address the psychological state or attempt to explore the lived experiences of transgendered individuals, and it seems far more time was spent choreographing the meaningless imagery than researching the supposed content. Moreover, while the Undergrand is an interesting space and must instantly appeal to performance art groups, nothing in this production justified its setting so even the choice of venue seems to have lacked basic consideration. From the publicity, it seems Plastic could be a poignant examination of important topics, but due to poor research and little inspiration the actual performance appears entirely vacuous.