Magnetic North Theatre Company takes the experiences of trans women and puts them on stage in an accessible way that left the audience both amused and contemplative.
Down the small Bakery Lane in Fortitude Valley, behind a white lace curtain, the audience walks into a cosy room with a makeshift stage constructed from wooden pallets. As the story begins, we are introduced to the titular Cassandra. A transitioned trans woman, she is trying to separate herself from the ‘boy doll’ that symbolises her male identity. The show tells her story of coming to terms with her identity and the identity that others perceive.
Written as a way for trans people to tell their own stories, Cassandra and the Boy Doll was penned by a trans woman and staged with trans and non-binary performers. It was good to see the subject presented in such an authentic way.
Despite the fact that this can be a very melancholy topic, Miranda Sparks writes, yes with gravity, but also with a healthy sense of humour that allows the audience to breathe. The actors shone particularly well in these light-hearted moments. Laughter worked as a way to get the audience invested, and then to help drive the message home when they thought about what they were actually laughing at.
As with any show there were some minor issues. Unfortunately there was some floor work that was difficult to see from further back than the front two rows of seats. Some people had to shift throughout the show to maintain a line of sight to the action. There was also a DJ playing in the lane that the venue was on, and the music was quite loud and a little distracting at times, particularly when there was music playing as part of the show. But there are always going to be concessions made when not performing in a dedicated space.
As a cis-het woman, I cannot pretend to fully comprehend what Cassandra and women like her go through on a daily basis. However shows like this one, although not written for me, do offer a glimpse into a world I am not a part of. For anyone who is or knows a person who does not conform to traditional notions of gender, or even those who just want to be more aware of what life is like for others, this is a fantastic show that both entertains and enlightens.