Thursday, August 04, 2011

eunuchs in the fringe

I tried to see a Fringe show yesterday. I failed.

I thought I was going to see “A Wondrous Flitting” at the Traverse. But when I got there,I discovered my ticket wasn’t for Wednesday. It was for Saturday.

But because this whole amazing event is a trade fair and huge aesthetic discussion forum and a gigantic job application and a family reunion all rolled into one, it didn’t really matter that I never got to see the show.

I almost didn’t see today’s either. Public transport doesn’t really function at this time of year so I gave up on my bus and walked up the Royal Mile in the rain past hundreds of drenched flier distributors, extinguished fire-eaters and forlorn street performers.

While I was waiting for my dear friend outside Napier’s - who was stuck in a bus elsewhere in the city - two young Spanish women asked me for directions for a shop that sells overalls, and I saw a very timid looking and exceptionally well behaved clan warrior with a pot belly hesitating a little fearfully, double-handed sword and all, about to cross the busy street before pressing the button for the green man at the crossing.

And then a duck did the same. I think it was an eider duck.

And then we saw Eunuchs in My Wardrobe.

They were in a horrid basement lecture theatre just off George Sq. Hard to imagine a less sympathetic space for this story of a mixed race boy growing up in Eastbourne and the way a boyhood memory of seeing hijras in Calcutta guided and inspired him to discover his true identity.

I hesitate to use the word “transgender” to describe them, because that imposes a male/female gender binary on them that does not do justice to the richness and beauty of their cultural history - which comes in bleak contrast to the squalor in which they are now so often forced to live.

The script was overwritten in a way that double dotted every i, double crossed every t, put them in bold, underlined them, and then rendered them in rhyming verse - sometimes a blessing, sometimes a curse - and if I do exaggerate it is only to articulate the manic virtuosity of the text that could have left me very vexed... but in the end did absolutely nothing of the kind.

Perhaps because in an uncanny way it was telling so much of my story also; and certainly expressing so many of my own thoughts and ideas on gender, religion and sexuality.

I couldn’t find a writing credit, so I don’t know if Silas Carson wrote as well as performed it, but his performance is totally committed, remarkably skilled and suffused with beautiful compassion and grace.

It’s one of these Fringe shows you fear for, somehow: tucked away in its sterile basement, it could easily sink without trace.

I hope not. It communicates such enlightenment and such life affirming pride.

Eunuchs in My Wardrobe: Assembly 3, George Square, 13.15)

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With you all the way. Only five in the performance yesterday but a treasure from the fringe '11. Thanks you Silas Carson for taking the trouble to refine your experience to such an illuminating performance
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