Everyday society accepts woman who wear jeans, trainers and a t shirt as normal, yet if a man walked down the street in stockings, skirt and high heels that is seen as abnormal. Why? This classic play about gender and stereotyping returns to the Fringe for the first time since its premiere at the Traverse in 1990.
Written by and starring Claire Dowie, this production forms part of Hill Street Theatre’s Fringe season of solo shows; with acting and writing of this calibre, it’s easy to see why the show has returned to the city where it began all those years ago.
Dowie shares her story from the age of fourteen when she and her friends were called the fab four due to their tomboyish outlook and passion for mucking about. These weren't girls who were into shopping for high heels and skirts. This at times hilarious and yet often touching account of growing up wanting to be a man but having to accept society’s preconditions of what womanhood is from the ‘knicker factory’, to the hell of school, right through to the bedrooms of adulthood, is a truly captivating and inspiring hour's viewing.
With assured direction from Colin Watkeys, as well as Dowie’s ability to lift the words from the page and humanise them, assures the pace doesn't drop. Dowie performs a raft of costume changes in front of us, doing this allows her to really explore what clothes and lingerie means to womanhood and why, when growing up, she could never see the point of wearing tights. This is a very funny standout moment of the show, as is the shocking sight of seeing her take a pair of scissors to said tights to vent her frustration.
This is an individual story about femininity which stays clear of the emotional transgender debate while allowing clever discussion of what stereotyping is and what it means both to Dowie and to us as the audience. With excellent direction, a still sparkling script and acting of the very highest calibre, this is a truly unforgettable and equally unmissable play.