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Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2015 - Theatre Reviews 10 - Trans Scripts - Pleasance Courtyard - Four stars / A Game of You - Traverse Theatre - Four stars

Six women line the stage at the start of Paul Lucas' new play, Trans Scripts. At first glance, such a disparate array seem to have stepped out of a common or garden piece about female bonding. As it is, the stories that unfold over the play's ninety minute duration presents a very different kind of sisterhood.

Culled and cut-up from some seventy-five interviews with trans women, Lucas and director Linda Ames Key have shaped six disparate stories from true life experience that lay bare the agonies and ecstasies of being a woman trapped in a man's bodies. The ecstasies, of course, only come later, after the women have risen above lifetimes of verbal and physical abuse. The stories that emerge are by turns angry, funny and at times wilfully saucy. There are flirtations with the audience and there are heartwarming tales of acceptance by families and local churches and communities as they support each other through the purging in this most beautifully realised of emancipations.

In a Fringe where gender has been one theatre's vital talking points, this is a show that matters, not just to those already aware of the trans communities, but for those who have no knowledge of them. In this respect Lucas and co aren't presenting a polemic, but a set of deep-rooted stories full of warmth and vulnerability that speaks to anyone en route to discovering their own identity. It's also whip-smart funny in a big-hearted show that only wants the acceptance by others that any of us do.

Belgian avant provocateurs Ontroerend Goed have long pushed the boundaries between performer and spectator. Now, after A Smile on Your Face and Internal put their audiences on the spot in an increasingly intimate fashion, the final part of the trilogy, A Game of You, takes things to the logical limit by allowing the show's sole participant to present a portrait of themselves that's reflected back at them with an honesty that's as incisive as it might be painful.

It begins and ends in a darkened room beside the Traverse's upstairs foyer. Once inside, you're led through a series of red-draped booths, where you are gently but firmly asked to come to terms with your own self-image. What happens over the next thirty minutes really depends on what you're prepared to bring to the party in terms of embracing the moment and being honest. This isn't nearly as traumatic as it sounds in a delicately constructed piece of personal history that's fascinatingly and entertainingly narcissistic and wittily engaging as it allows us a a glimpse at how others see us in the starkest of close-ups.

The Herald, August 27th 2015

ends

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