Vault review: No I.D.

Stopping off at the Vault Festival after running at last year’s Peckham Fringe, Tatenda Shamiso’s play No I.D. starts in governmental red tape but becomes a celebration of his trans-masculinity.

Born a girl who was musical, precocious, and loud, Tatenda showcases who he was and who he is in this affirming self-portrait that mixes live music and video with his transition story.

Warm, witty, and disarmingly honest, No I.D. gives a personal spin on the transgender debate and the gender binary, as well as celebrating the woman Tatenda once was (‘I’d be nothing without her’).

Director Sean Ting-Hsuan Wang and designer Claudia Casino have helped tease out a story of gender dysphoria, bureaucratic contradictions, and controlled chaos.

Promotional image for No I.D.

Document boxes, which start piled up neatly at the front of the stage, find their contents strewn hither and thither. A medical report literally snakes down the stairs, which part the audience.

Both Tatenda and his former self, Thandie, are characters that connect well with an audience. Through the help of audio and video recordings, they often blend together, voices changed through prescription of testosterone.

No I.D. starts with the need to update name and gender on paperwork, but ends with the assurance of being secure in one’s skin. At the start of the show’s genesis, Tatenda was fundraising for top surgery, but now he has the money to progress.

Promotional image for No I.D.

A clown in flight, a performer with a vocal and comedic ability to capture your heart, Tatenda Shamiso is a man who is resolute and happy. A recording of his father shows his familial support in transition; a moment of quiet reflection.

This is a play not just about the red tape that inconveniences trans people but also a reflection on femininity, masculinity, and the gender spectrum.

It doesn’t offer answers, but that’s ok. This is one trans man’s view of his own experience, and it is an hour well-spent.

No I.D. had its last performance tonight at the Vault Festival. For more about Tatenda Shamiso, follow him on Twitter. No I.D. is one of the Vault Five shows for 2023.