(Jane Coyle’s article appeared in the Irish Times, 11/30.)
No heads would turn in a crowd at the sight of the slight, androgynous figure of Kes. Devoid of make-up, her loathed female figure concealed beneath a hoodie and trackies, she is utterly anonymous. But in her own mind, that perception is far from the truth. From a young age, a jumbled sense of gender and sexual identity have convinced her that she is a fish out of water, an oddball, a social misfit. She refuses to acknowledge her real name, as it would testify to the fact that Kes is a girl, even though she is certain that she is not. Alone and apart, she takes refuge in an alternative virtual reality, in which her avatar is invariably the coolest dude in the game.
Persuasively directed by Emma Jordan, developed and produced by Prime Cut for the Outburst Queer Arts Festival, the personal dilemma at the core of Stacey Gregg’s compelling new play hits a unanimously sympathetic note, thanks to Amy McAllister’s engaging solo performance. Hiding her difficulties under a perky exterior, her self-deprecating humour masks a troubled teenager struggling to make sense of the incomprehensible. Performed close up and in the round, with the audience cast as members of her support group, there is both courage and discomfort in her jerky, alien-like movements which mark her out as peculiar and different.