Transformation (4 stars)

This article is from 2010


Harrowing but uplifting tale of survival

At first sight writer, director and performer Gemskii appears to have created a welcoming, informal atmosphere in her small space at the Roxy, handing out programmes and opening her show with a polite invitation to ‘laugh, even though this story is often shocking’. She’s not exaggerating. What follows is a breathless monologue, detailing the performer’s tumultuous life story from very early childhood to her late-30s, a harrowing tale of child abuse, drug addiction, seven rapes, including an attempted gang rape, enforced prostitution, self-harming and numerous suicide attempts.

But – and here’s the thing – there’s nothing self-pitying about Gemskii’s journey, and the dispassionate, almost flippant rendition of her distressing tale is shot through with precise deliberate movement that underlines the violence and sadness that runs across the story. While bookending the monologue with discussion of the Transformation Cycle seems a little tenuous and unnecessary, overall it’s an incredibly dynamic piece of theatre that leaves Gemskii drenched in sweat and the audience moved.

Zoo Roxy, 662 6892, until 30 Aug, 11.50am, £9 (£6).


  • 4 stars

'Transformation' is an autobiographical one-woman show that causes a sensation whenever it is performed. It provokes standing ovations because it is raw, honest and highly physical. It is the inspirational journey of the performer's own struggle to survive encounters with abuse, drugs, criminality, homelessness, rape…