The title for this play comes from the chromosomes that arbitrarily define gender. It is a compelling piece of verbatim theatre about LGBT issues.
The power in this piece comes from the truth – from the real stories, and from hearing it in the subject’s own words.
As a verbatim production, the script is built from interviews conducted by the playwright. In avoiding a specific angle on his interviewees, playwright Mark Jeary has portrayed his three subjects sensitively and with great nuance, interweaving the stories of Natalie Scott from Scotland, Latoya Nugent of Jamaica and Hilath Rasheed from the Maldives.
Too often, verbatim plays suffer from the writer projecting too much of themselves into the work, or the director attempting to liven up what can be static text. Happily, that’s not the case here. Belle Jones places the three characters in their own small spaces on the stage. Natalie, a transgender woman, often disappears behind a screen to make a costume change, allowing the other characters to carry on the conversation in her absence. Hilath, a writer, often works on his laptop in his space and throughout the piece Latoya draws in notebooks, presenting placards to each character at the end that show the attributes of their personalities. It’s an uplifting ending, albeit a little twee.
It is likely that the interviews took place separately, but within sections of the piece the three characters seem to be having conversations directly with one another, confiding their beliefs, discussing their cultures, coming-out stories, pride and love of chocolate. This works well in providing shifts to the rhythm of the piece.
All three performers are exceptional. They are believable in their portrayals and we never see them ‘acting’. Sarah Barron as Natalie is particularly moving when she relates a story of childhood trauma, which left me devastated. Tharan Sivapatham steps in to Latoya’s story as a Jamaican cab driver, and then to Sarah’s as a Scottish club-goer, with quite an impressive command of accents. Lynette Holmes is very likeable as Latoya and has a direct, open style.
Nothing about this show is overdone and nothing is unnecessary. The power in this piece comes from the truth – from the real stories, and from hearing it in the subject’s own words. A brave, honest and moving piece of new writing: highly recommended.