Origins Theatre is well known for producing plays that are original and thought-provoking, and I.D. is very definitely both. At a time when the Island is getting ready to welcome the second IW Pride event, yet society in general is still grappling with the idea that not everyone fits into neatly defined gender brackets, this play is relevant and needed. At least one audience member last night said that she had personally learnt a lot from it.
Yet I.D. is not, as the above might suggest, just ‘worthy’, much less jumping on the latest bandwagon: it is a gentle, sometimes humorous, often moving, insight into one family’s experiences. The fact that writer Heaton Wilson (also the director in his alter ego of Kevin) took time to speak to people about their own personal journeys through life as a transgender person shows in the script.
The beginning of the play introduces us to transgender Ian, played superbly by Luke Berry, who bravely allowed his own photos to tell the story of his journey from female to male, leading us to believe this would be his story. But cleverly, the focus shifts from the young man who, despite having been bullied and beaten up, is clearly aware of who he is and is in charge of his own future, to his godfather Keith.
The character of Keith, ably played by John Abraham, was totally believable and evoked our empathy as he grappled with the situation faced by many older people in our newly-accepting culture: he had always known he was meant to be ‘something else’ but had spent his life conforming to the expectations of those around him and now, later in life, he was ready to accept his true identity.
With the support of his godson, and his wife Gemma – perfectly portrayed by Traci Stockman – Keith embraces his own transition and the monologue that closed the first half of the show challenged the audience to examine their own life, widening the scope to suggest that we all have the right to be in the right place in our own life, whether than means changing job, relationship – or gender.
In the second act Keith becomes Kathy, and together the family support Ian’s mother Elaine, played with gentle understatement by Lorna Wilson, as she grapples with her own issues surrounding her husband who was unable to accept Ian’s transition.
The play would not have had the same impact without two other cast members (three if you count the mannequin!). Lewis Pavey was a silent but key presence as he gradually built up the mannequin throughout the first half, enabling Keith and Ian to dress ‘her’ as a symbol of the build up to the transition. The film sequences and sound were capably supplied by Veejay Clarke, fitting perfectly around the actors on stage.
The director (and writer) is to be congratulated on this sensitive piece which deserves a wider audience – I very much hope we have not seen the last of this play!