Testosterone is a joyous, raucous celebration. If you’re in the audience, consider yourself lucky: you’re invited to bear witness to a birthday party of sorts—Kit has become a man. The sixty-five minute performance takes the audience on a wild ride, blending magic realism with autobiography, as Kit shares pivotal moments on his coming-of-age journey.
The play is set in a locker room, where Kit experiences a shocking moment during their first time inside a men’s changing room. This moment serves as a grounding point for the play: when things become overly fantastical, we return to the reality of the locker room. Matthew Wells, who stars as The Sports Jock and is also the play’s movement director, says the stage itself is meant to feel like a “boxing ring.” A large mirror hangs at the back between the lockers, creating an effect Wells says is meant to make the set feel “claustrophobic,” like you “can’t escape” your own self-image. Kit Redstone also wanted the set to be somewhere familiar, where everyone’s been before.
Although there are four actors on this claustrophobic stage, the set feels anything but small. Their stage presence is lively and electrifying; manipulating the space with their energy, they take up the entirety of the stage through rapid dance sequences, nimble transitions, and slow-motion movements. Autobiographical scenes are interrupted when the cast bursts into song and dance, keeping the show upbeat and spirited.
While Testosterone is a celebration of masculinity, it is also a critique of when masculinity becomes toxic. On stage, Kit openly contemplates when and how boys and men learn to take part in toxic behaviour. They relive an experience as a child, watching their father fight with their stepmother. Later the audience is told that toxic behaviour is reinforced “every time you laugh at a fucked-up joke,” or let the behaviour of your father, brother, or friend slide. It is powerful, and it feels personal. In 2018, the message is as timely as ever.
Kit also reimagines their first dance with a boy as a pre-transition young girl. They recall the “feminine” feeling of being small, and safe against a boy’s chest. Kit explains, “You don’t get many chances for that as a man.”
During the after-the-show Q&A, Kit laments the portrayal of being trans as being a victim. They suggest that the world needs more trans comedians, saying, “I don’t want to be a victim. I want to be happy. I want to be liked.” In Testosterone, Kit and the actors are happy and likeable. They are also realistic, emotional. The play celebrates Kit’s transition but also honours all the obstacles along the way that have made Kit who they are.
Testosterone runs through October 13th at The Cultch. Tickets and more information can be found here.