Welcomed back to Edinburgh after its rave performances last year,
We are clearly at a point in society where scripts like this one are not merely interesting, but vital.
Amy McAllister is a magnetic presence in the theatre. We see the character before Kes, bubbling with curiosity about everything. Performing feminine identity to appease their parents, we then see the pulses of energy run through them when they talk to the lovely Joules online, when they dress as Kes, and when they talk to their friends in the discussion group - which quickly blurs the boundaries between audience and participant, involving each of us in the support and the debate. In fact, McAllister is so engaging that the few scenes where direction calls for her to be out of the action (in a darkened room, voices play over the speakers), the energy of the room plummets. A couple of the moments between electric choreographed movement and conversational monologue jarr in a way which doesn't contribute to our feeling of Kes’ development, but for the most part the juxtaposition is intense and evocative.
Scorch explores problematic experiences of identity in the 21st century: the intersections of gender-curiosity, burgeoning sexuality, and online interactions, which have no simple answer. For Scorch, the final case depends upon the mutable ways in which empowerment over self-definition can be interpreted by others as identity fraud. Where are the lines between gender fluidity and willful deception? For some in the audience, this will be a question they will never have had to think about before, except as a purely theoretical thought-experiment; for others, it will resound with truth and relatable snapshots of the ways in which gender performance is negotiated today. We are clearly at a point in society where scripts like this one are not merely interesting, but vital. McAllister performs it with such charm and tenderness that many in the audience give Scorch a standing ovation.