Camden Fringe review: Transparency

Jaden Adams, an Oldham-born former gas engineer now three years into his transition, stops off at the Camden Fringe with his one-man show, Transparency.

Written with input from Mary Cooper and directed by Francesca Murray-Fuentes, this play looks at the experiences of trans men from working class families by focusing on the character of Jack and those around him.

Adams (we share a hometown, so I recognise the attitudes and people he portrays) plays all the characters in this – his parents, a male work colleague, his nan. A costume prop and change of voice and stance is all it needs.

Jack tells us a lot of personal detail about his transition: the self-loathing of his body; the battle with parents who won’t accept (Dad) or grieve (Mum) the loss of their daughter; the uneasy bond with Nan, who shows understanding but still says the wrong thing.

Promotional image for Transparency

A notable scene is a post-work drinking session with “the lads,” who treat women as objects, a trait Jack, with his lived experience of being a young woman, finds disturbing. Later, he defends a woman being hassled, and they become an item.

There’s a sense of freedom in Transparency, while acknowledging that transition is not easy (or a choice). Humour comes from the unexpected that you may not think about; pathos comes from Mum slowly saying goodbye to her “little girl”.

At fifty minutes, there is a lot to pack in, but props are used well, and the many scene changes are dealt with as quickly as possible. I did wonder whether Mum/Nan could be played by another actor, but then I’d miss Adams’s playing of them – he’s a wonderful performer.

We don’t see enough of Dad beyond one scene where he reacts exactly the way someone from his background would (“she wants to be a bloke!”). Does he change as his son settles into his new identity?

Transparency is a strong piece of theatre that makes you think about social acceptance and self-doubt while remaining light-footed about body dysphoria and surgical interventions.

It should be required viewing for those people who maintain that transition is a phase or aberration.

Poignant and warm, Transparency has one further date Upstairs at the Gatehouse on 20 Aug with tickets here, then will continue on tour with details here.


What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.