Male bodies, female voices in intriguing Edinburgh Fringe Festival show
This article is from 2014.
Mirroring the themes of Ontroeren Goed's Sirens, Travesti has an all male cast voicing the words of women. This juxtaposition, putting words in the mouths of men, is the show's main concept and while it is initially shocking, it can't sustain the weight of the issues and is a slight contribution to the debate around the representation of the female.
There is a novelty in hearing men talk about body issues and make-up, as well as the threat of sexual violence, and the tension between these bodies and these conversations lends Travesti some depth. However, it tends to reduce the opinions, making them sound camp or vain. The intention is clearly to question the way that female voices are heard differently than men, but the impact is sometimes to mock the apparent triviality of the concerns. That it plays with the idea of men speaking on behalf of women is clever, but the female body is literally excluded and the complaints are becoming common-place tropes.
However, this is an intriguing entry to the Fringe. Unafraid of making strong statements, and trying to find a way around the dominance of male-authored theatre, Travesti provides food for thought and contributes to the wider debate. The men do strip off, casting up the problems of objectification, and the tougher passages lack bite. Yet Travesti does engage with a thorny problem and while the idea does not sustain the show's length, it provides a starting point for further conversation.
Jack Dome, Pleasance, until 25 Aug (not 19), 2.50pm, £10–£11 (£9–£10).