Reviews OWE & Fringe Published 14 December 2015

Lost In Trans

Toynbee Studios ⋄ 10th - 11th December 2015

Dickie Beau’s unpicking of sexuality and identity.

Lydia Thomson
Dickie Beau in Lost in Trans

Dickie Beau in Lost in Trans

The relationship between our internal sense of self and outward personality is a fascinating one. We align ourselves to a set of socially defined modes of being, dictated by our sex, class, occupation and many other intricate factors. But what we are screaming on the inside might not match the set of limbs and organs given to us at birth. Or, our society might not allow us to straddle separate modes of being. “Why can’t I be a woman with a penis?”, “Why can’t a human marry a horse?”

These are the kinds of questions that Dickie Beau – the persona created and performed by Richard Boyce – explores in his darkly humorous show, Lost In Trans. Combining found audio with stories from Greek Mythology and Ovid’s Metamorphoses, Dickie uses multimedia, drag and theatre to explore sexuality and identity in a unique, liberating and exciting way.

The show begins with a roaring sequence of images projected onto a mesh screen at the front of the stage, to a soundtrack of incredibly cool dance music (‘Breed’ by CRIM3S). We are shown shocking scenes of eyeballs, animals and the vocal chords in the human throat, while Dickie Beau stands on stage and slowly, serenely, hooks a flesh coloured all-in-one to the front of his body. In the video, the same flesh coloured all-in-one runs freely through the darkness, limbs swinging and dangling. On stage, Dickie pulls the legs of the all-in-one away from each other, like a woman might play with a dress, and suddenly his own skin looks like an outfit. The body he is in looks like an outfit.

And then, Tiresias: Dickie, wearing dark round glasses, unfolds a stick and waves it in front of him, like Tiresias poking at the two mating snakes. What happens next in the story of Tiresias is that he turns into a woman for the next 7 years, and in Lost In Trans, this is a perfect way to set up the precedent of gender fluidity. It is also a prime example of the way the show smartly interweaves Greek Mythology and the more contemporary stories, as Dickie Beau proceeds to be the vessel for both male and female voices.

Dickie Beau sits on top of a ladder and we hear a recording of a man declaring his love to a woman named Anne. He lip synchs the words of the recording perfectly, narrating with slick, evocative physical gestures. This section is inspired by the story of Narcissus, and a stunning reflection of Dickie Beau’s own face is projected in front of him, rippling soothingly. In combining these two stories, suddenly it becomes clear that although the recording is the declaration of love for someone else, it is primarily focused on the man’s own feelings. Dickie emphasises the speaker’s use of the word “I” with a pronounced flick of a hand to his chest. He repeats sections of the recording, and with each repeated outpouring, the recording takes on a darker, less earnest sentiment. It inspires us to question, how much can we trust the honesty of a person’s words and appearance? Or rather, how much can we trust that they are being honest to themselves? Dickie’s manipulation and performance of the recording brings its honesty to the fore.

We also meet two trans-women, portrayed in video form by Dickie who is transformed flawlessly into an imagined portrait of the speaker’s attire and characteristics. While the video plays, Dickie adorns a long blonde ponytail first in front of his penis, then on the top of his head, then on his bum, as a tail. He is man, woman, then beast, all by the simple placement of a ponytail. With two high heeled shoes on his hands, he is silhouetted in the dim light as a horse – as Pegasus. The woman on the recording talks of wanting fame, of wanting glamour and beauty, while another Pegasus moves across the back of the stage on crutches. Indeed, what’s stopping her?

The last story makes for a tremendous finale, and Dickie as a demure, modest lady leans into a microphone. She records an initially benign, bland message to her lover about the weather and the garden, before launching into a raunchy indulgence of her sexuality. “Darling”, the recipient of this recording, is treated to an account of all the things she wants him to do to her, before returning to talk of the weather, and saying “I love you darling, never forget that.” Safe in the love she shares with this man, it is clear that this seemingly innocent woman certainly has a naughty side. Through the contrast between Dickie Beau’s depiction of her attire and the recording itself, we celebrate her embracing it.

And that’s what the show is, it is a celebration of all of the voices, bodies and personas that the human form can take on. While this final recording is wrapping up, Dickie winds the microphone lead around his arm, around and around until we see that it is not connected to anything, and that it is not him speaking. It is made clear that he is the vessel for the stories, like that nude all-in-one that ran freely through the dark. Although his performance and command of the recordings is astonishingly clean cut, let us not be mistaken – he is performing an echo of these voices.

And so, he puts his dark round glasses back on, and returns to Tiresias. Following the original story, he gives another wave of the stick and – presumably – returns to the gender he was at the beginning of the show. That achieved, he leaves, while two dragonflies flit around, talking about having a sex change, much to our amusement.

After the show, I couldn’t help feeling that my own skin looked different, somehow. We are all of us wearing a flesh coloured all-in-one, running freely through the dark, free to embrace whatever character, gender or even species we wish to be. It is not just the many faces of man, it is the many faces that man can be. It sure is a bright and beautiful world that Dickie Beau has created.

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Lydia Thomson

Lydia writes about theatre for her own blog and reviews local work for the Basingstoke Gazette and the Hampshire Chronicle. She was also a member of the reviewing team for LIFT 2014. As well as arts journalism, Lydia is a playwright and performance artist working in Hampshire and London. She is an associate artist of Proteus Theatre Company in Basingstoke and is part of the artist's network at the Nuffield Theatre in Southampton.

Lost In Trans Show Info


Produced by Sally Rose

Written by Dickie Beau

Cast includes Dickie Beau

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