TRH Review: Testosterone

TRH Review: Testosterone

Originally published on The Reviews Hub

Awarded 2.5 stars – Fake, Forced, Flawed

That first injection is meant to make Kit feel more like a man, a milestone in his female to male transition. But the magical amber nectar isn’t a personality transplant, it isn’t designed to give its patient a macho self-confidence that borders on arrogance, a feeling of being the superior gender or the sex drive of a puma. So, even though Kit now feels happier than ever before, he is still an outsider, desperate to be part of the gang. But then, when looking around the locker room, who isn’t seeking approval from the leader of the collective?

Writer-actor Kit Redstone collaborates with Rhum and Clay Theatre Company to bring an exploratory new work to the New Diorama theatre. Testosterone charts his ongoing journey, gets into his head with out of body experiences and unpicks the gender-blind insecurities that are intrinsic within his mind. Masculinity is not a ticket to acceptance, be it either public confirmation in a changing room or self-acceptance in one’s own consciousness. Kit’s opening gambit asks whether first impressions are defined by looks or by personality, as he explores an initially homoerotic first experience in a foreign land. Julian Spooner and Matthew Wells (artistic directors of Rhum and Clay) gyrate around the stage to electro music, a modern version of the spandex and lycra music videos made popular in the 80s. Daniel Jacob struts about as the diva fairy godmother on his shoulder, complete with powerful booming vocals and sporting a Madonna cone bra and Tina Turner wig. The situation is fake, forced and fundamentally flawed – a synthetic projection based on Kit’s idea of what should happen in such an environment.

There is an overly stated sense of escapism running throughout the production. In order to avoid facing the issue put in front of him, Kit cuts to flashbacks and fiction in his mind – school discos where he first wore a dress and felt protected; Wild West cowboys where the alpha male can be stared down and made to back off through sheer force of will; a confused sports metaphor where the locker room turns into a single-minded team, supporting each other to victory and consoling team mates in times of hardship or defeat. The metaphors flash in and out of the actual situation so often that the reality of the story is lost in translation. The supporting actors however jump in and out of characters with ease and as such prevent the situation from becoming too farcical. Spooner as the alpha male in particular evokes the memory of the school bully, the high school heartthrob that picks a girl at will and discards her when he is done, with painful accuracy. Jacob provides comic relief, a drag queen with a fabulous ferocity and the facial expressions to match.

Ultimately Kit is faced with a dilemma, caught between the world he wants to inhabit and the world staring at him as he attempts to change and get on with his life. Testosterone may change the physicality of a person, but it doesn’t overturn stereotypes, inject acceptance or provide confidence. The desire to belong transcends such trivialities as gender.

Writer: Kit Redstone

Director: Julian Spooner
Runs until 3 December 2016