TESTOSTERONE is an award-winning collaboration between Rhum and Clay Theatre Company and Kit Redstone. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Kit, so when I went along to the ‘pay what you can’ showing at Hertford Theatre, I had some idea of what to expect… or at least, I thought I did!
I expected a play which tackled big questions around gender identity and what it means to be a man, which it absolutely did. I also knew it would be creative and funny but that didn’t fully prepare me for the conversation-provoking, laugh-out-loud delight that is TESTOSTERONE.
Set in a male changing room, the narrative revolves around Kit (Kit Redstone) who enters this new environment for the first time since his transition from female to male. Kit takes the audience through the mysterious social dynamics of the changing room, whilst dipping in and out of key memories and experiences from his life.
The script and performances take you into the surreal and dreamlike, whilst remaining grounded through the ‘real world’ narrative of the changing room. For me, this approach not only kept the show interesting, it also provided a clever distinction between Kit’s physical experiences and his slightly less tangible thoughts, perceptions and emotions.
The Diva character (William Donaldson), for example, seems to represent the power of the feminine. She challenges Kit’s transition and provides the female role which is necessary to explore some of the play’s ideas around masculinity.
However the fact that this is delivered by a man in gold, sequinned hot-pants singing such numbers as My Milkshake Brings all the Boys to the Yard (and singing them very well!) makes these potentially overwhelming topics very accessible and a lot of fun to engage with. Although this character was at times very theatrical, kudos should go to Donaldson for his ability to play more serious scenes with genuinely touching sincerity, whilst still wearing a corset and heels.
Director Julian Spooner and and Movement Director Matthew Wells (who also act in the show) do a fantastic job of playfully making fun of the classic male archetypes we all know. Tackling the worlds of sport, movies and everyday environments like a school dance and family holiday, they explore the best and worst of aspects of masculinity, in a way that’s relatable to everyone.
There’s a real sense of vulnerability in the way the male persona is exposed and examined throughout this production and I was struck by the feeling of acceptance amongst those sitting in the audience. The cast presented something raw and honest and it was received with interest and respect, both during the show and in the Q&A session that followed.
TESTOSTERONE combines witty, poignant writing with slick, creative and often very funny physical theatre, to create something entertaining, thought-provoking and unique. If you have a father, son, brother, boyfriend, husband or in fact have ever met a man before, you should go and see this production. If you are a man, even better!
Have you seen TESTOSTERONE? What did you think? Leave a comment or tweet @HertfordArts.