Smock Alley Theatre – Boys’ School
The backdrop of the red brick, barrier-heavy Smock Alley Boys’ School provides a heady and pointed stage for Hyper, the Jaxbanded Theatre production centred around the transgender experience. The two-but-really-three-hander is filled to the brim with queer quips, acute self-awareness and combative, interpretative dance.
Hyper tells the story of Saoirse (played by both Fiona Larmon and Ois O’Donoghue), who returns to a gay bar to perform with her bandmate, Conall, following her transition. It tells the tale of Saoirse, who, with her bandmate Conall, returns to a gay bar to perform as their band following her transition. Saoirse, who is played both by Fiona Larmon and Ois O’Donoghue, conveys, in exquisite detail, the realities of the everyday trans existence; from the deep-rooted anger of circumstance to the growing panic upon entering public bathrooms. O’Donoghue, acting as a sort of camp Angel Gabriel, guides both actors (Christopher O’Shaughnessy, too, portrays an excellent friend, bandmate and ally) into these realms, leading them with grace and a loaded gun.
A patchwork transgender flag wholly covers a side wall, something punters only notice after they’ve sat down and pored over the so-called “mass leaflets,” – resplendent with first and second responses – placed on our seats. You see, Hyper, involves audience participation, the kind just gruelling enough to prove a point. This happens during a particularly clever break of the fourth wall – complete with house lights and cast eye contact – which aims to knowingly answer the casting question.
After a rendition of a breathtakingly warped Raglan Road, tear-filled laughter can be heard during the play’s final scene, where our lead teeters towards self-actualisation in a way that shines with authenticity. As I wipe away tears from my laptop’s keyboard, may I implore you to see Hyper, before its inevitably sold-out run. Five stars is not enough.
Continues at Smock Alley, as part of Dublin Fringe Festival, until Saturday, September 23rd