Transgender man Laurence Owen opens up about his transition in a profoundly personal and autobiographical 45-minute play. Told to us in the Fringe’s tiny Pianodrome – a space made from upcycled pianos, though to be honest, not the best for this production – there’s something about audience members being trusted with such detailed information which makes it so compelling. As we settle down into the seats, Owen asks for Fringe recommendations before seamlessly slipping into his own show. A deep connection between viewer and performer is so easily and readily established.
A lot of Some Other Mirror is framed in conversation with Laurie’s younger, pre-transition self. He shows us his early plans for the production on his phone, before spending a fair amount of time alternating between his “old voice” and his “new voice”. The difference between the two is obviously noticeable, but as he jumps about the stage switching between characters, it is admittedly hard to keep up at times, and ascertain exactly who is speaking. Unfortunately at times, projection in a room with unique acoustics makes it hard to hear what is being said.
However, its breadth is remarkable, bravely and boldly interrogating the many conversations which come with being transgender in the UK. There’s the commentary on how one trans individual’s actions can shape “the view of an entire minority” just by how under-represented the community is in society at the moment, the ludicrous concept of ‘sanity’ within the context of the transgender experience, and the psychological onslaught that is internalised transphobia.
Though undoubtedly the most powerful moment of Some Other Mirror comes when Owen applies his testosterone gel to his bare chest in front of us all. It feels radical in a theatrical setting, which many people reading this may rightly conclude is exactly what theatre should be. When trans bodies are being constantly debated in the media by other people, Owen’s decision to literally bear all looks like a reclamation of trans bodies by trans people. Combine this physical acceptance with a more innate self-acceptance, and its impact is as intense as it is informative.
Some Other Mirror played at the Pianodrome at the Old Royal High School, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2022, from 11-12 August.
Production Images: Chronic Insanity.