Storms Beneath Her Skin


CAVEAT: I am once again touring a one-man show to the Kansas City Fringe Festival, affording me a unique opportunity to review some shows coming to the Minnesota Fringe in earlier stages of development – with the reminder that live theatre changes from performance to performance, and shows may undergo significant alteration from Fringe to Fringe.

Storms Beneath Her Skin
DESCRIPTION: Are you a boy or a girl? Are you sure? I am transgender, which complicates things. This show is about my experience, as well as apologies, surgery, the equations of sex, the weather, boobs, and more.

I’m a fan of Rebecca’s – of both her skill and thoughtfulness – but not always a fan of her work: I remember struggling with portions of her show last year (and it’s been too long, I’m afraid, since I saw it to recall exactly why – I just have a clear memory of chafing at some of her creative decisions).

Not so with this one. See, her background is that of a teacher, and this show – and I want to use this word in a way that emphasizes that this is a good thing, and not a bad thing – is, ultimately, a lecture. An extremely creative, playful lecture, punctuated by things like graph jokes and song parodies and heightened language – most of which are successful – but with the entertaining devices stripped away, this is a performer standing on a stage and laying out information.

Fortunately, the information here is compelling. I’m not someone who struggles greatly with his gender identification, but the issue of *identity* is one that fascinates me, enough that I’ve written extensively about it.

Most admirable, in my view, is the cool detachment with which she lays out the process of hormones and hair removal and surgery – I often find myself getting lost in the shrill emotionalism that surrounds these issues, and found her frankness totally refreshing.

After the show, she had a brief Q&A with the audience, in which she asked us for suggestions – particularly areas of the show to change/tighten/improve. And, yeah, I was a bit on the spot, but I kept turning aspects of the show around in my mind and couldn’t really find major points of contention.

(I thought for a while about one of the more emotionally heightened points of the show – it was jarring, in the context of what surrounded it – but then I thought, no, because what this show is about is *conveying information* — and the *emotional* process is very much a part of that, and that sequence conveyed much of that process quickly and clearly. I wrestled, too, with some more poetic, heightened-language sequences, but they ended up providing a solid throughline for the show as a whole. This is an impressively well-constructed, well-balanced show.)

Almost never pick up merch after shows, but bought a copy of her book on my way to the next venue.