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Review of Flash Festival 2016: X Or Y by Infuse Theatre at Castle Hill URC

There is one thing that you always get from Flash Festival (as well as excellent performances) and that is an education. Whether it is a brand new learning of something, or with X Or Y about transgener, a much greater understanding, you frequently leave the shows much more enlightened.

I follow Paris Lees on Twitter who I have great respect for with her campaigning for transgender rights, therefore I was slightly up with my understanding of the issues surrounding this piece. However Infuse Theatre's work, featuring Annalise Taylor, Rhiana Young, Stephanie Waugh and Grace Aitkin, Kathryn McKerrow, tells something I had never heard, that of the fascinating story of an 1870 court case concerning a certain Stella and Fanny, otherwise known as Ernest Boulton and Fred Park, arrested over transvesticism and a benchmark for the future.

This is our way into a play of almost perfect construction and excellent education merit, as no matter who you are you leave with more knowledge of transgender, and hopefully if you are a good person more respect.

There is little to show when we entered the theatre for this show other than what turns out to be two vitally important strips of pink and blue. These as we go through the show are the home of five indivual monologues performed by each performer in the group. They are striking tales of real people and their transition position. It does through use of colour fall into the trap of gender stereotyping itself, but I am willing to let this one pass as the message they tell is emotionally powerful.

This once again is a play of some very fine performances, the mentioned monologues are superbly performed at the front of the stage with emotion stark across the performers faces. Another highlight for me includes the physically crippled judge portrayed by Annalise Taylor. I have to say though that the standout performer in the show is Stephanie Waugh, who as well as being brilliant across the show, is simply creepily superb as the lascivious doctor. Stunning and scary at the same time.

Choreography and timing on this piece is pitch perfect and it is a stroke of genius to use Blur's Girls And Boys repeatedly throughout the show for the transitions. You might think it could become repetitive, but it never does and as it strikes up every time, you know you are going to get a magic
piece of physical movement as the cast assemble chairs or change each other costumes.

This is a mighty fine example of what Flash does best, coupling great humour within a wonderfully educational piece of drama. Five performers working extremely well together and creating a really great show.

The Flash Festival 2016 runs between Monday 16th and Saturday 21st May, 2016 at four venues across the town. Details can be found at http://ftfevents.wix.com/flashtheatre2016

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