Woah. What the fuck. This play is incredible. It’s the coolest small-scale play I have seen in years, the coolest one-man show I have ever seen, and very much not for the faint-hearted / bashful / easily offended.
I had an inkling that Mark Wilson – the writer and performer of this show, from the much-lauded Melbourne MKA theatre of new writing collective – would use someone in the audience during the play, so when he started eyeing up the crowd, looking for his husband, I tried to carefully and non-offensively to avoid eye contact (because I’m a reviewer, right). It didn’t work, and I ended up on-stage as the husband of a pampered Oscar-winning actress, gorgeously played by the bearded, glamorous Mark.
Though the transition from audience member to part-performer was a shock – I still felt very much like I was watching it unfold, even seated on a couch on the stage, because the character I was now alongside was such a steam-roller of energy and narcissism that I fortunately wasn’t required to say or do much as he sang Beyoncé’s ‘Irreplaceable’ at me and forced me off-stage.
Unsex Me loosely deals with the thematic concerns of Macbeth; the guilt of Lady Macbeth and the loss of her infant; the disconnect between her and Macbeth, as an ‘unsexed’ couple dealing with the crimes they commit and the losses they’ve endured. Wilson, placing himself between the two in an exploration of the space in-between their two sexes, finds a thoroughly original way of questioning expectations of gender. It’s an excellently-structured, excellently-performed show, with a completely unsexpected and transgressive finale that I totally implore you to go witness.
I am rarely impressed by shows that rely entirely on one performer, mostly because it’s hard to maintain the audience’s interest for an extended period with the limited range of characters and theatrical dynamics that one person can assume. Mark Wilson’s performance confounds that notion by being hilarious, entertaining, hugely varied both visually and thematically, and extremely compelling as an exploration of gender identity.
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