XY is a series of plays that have been written without specifying gender to any of the characters. An interesting concept, the performance consists of four twenty minute long plays which are completely independent from each other - written by different writers and lacking a central theme to tie them together. Sixteen plays in total, four rotations each, I have only seen one possible production of XY. An enjoyable experience for anyone with an interest in new writing, the plays were well written and beautifully performed. However, as with any collection of plays from different authors, the styles were extremely different and without a central theme to tie them altogether the performance lacked the power of a full length piece.
The brief gender neutrality was not obvious from the pieces themselves. Sadly, this was mainly due to casting. The roles were neither ‘obviously’ male nor female yet the women were still cast in what I would identify as the more submissive roles: for example, in one of the pieces a CEO of a publishing company is accused of sexual assault by a co-worker, the woman is cast as the co-worker and the man as the CEO. This was mirrored in another piece where a man in a gorilla suit chases a woman in a banana suit down a street while describing in weird vivid detail what he will do to her. This could have been a very interesting opportunity to revert gender roles and cast females in sexually dubious, morally bankrupt positions (which for some reason seem to be typically reserved for men) yet sadly the director chose the easy, more ‘realistic’, option. The parts were acted superbly, but it felt like a bit of a cop out for a piece that advertises itself as ‘gender neutral’.
XY is an entertaining and interesting collection of new writing, showcasing a range of styles and performed by an exceptionally strong cast. However, with regards to gender neutrality, it’s a conformist rather than creative production.