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Grace review at Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh – ‘confused series of sketches about gender’

Katie Reddin-Clancy in Grace (Zora showgirl). Photo: Philippa Michael Katie Reddin-Clancy in Grace (Zora showgirl). Photo: Philippa Michael

Katie Reddin-Clancy‘s solo show Grace is less a play than a series of comedy sketches pegged to a muddled storyline.

Alfie and Grace are a stage double act. When Alfie becomes Zora can their relationship on stage and off stage survive? Not that there’s really a plot. Instead Reddin-Clancy performs a series of characters – including Alfie, an east-end hoofer and a hard-bitten theatrical agent – but for the most part it’s unclear who’s supposed to be speaking about whom. There’s a lack of clarity and precision to the performance and the storytelling.

Reddin-Clancy was apparently inspired by the experiences of a transgender friend to make the show, and there’s some fuzzy stuff about gender fluidity, but the good intentions are undermined by clumsy staging.

A collection of feathers, corsets, robes and headdresses hang on both sides of the stage. Reddin-Clancy puts these on as she performs. She sings a bit. But if there is a message in here about performance, costume and gender, it’s hard to discern what it is. For one thing, it’s unclear when all this is supposed to be happening in time – the costumes suggest something different from the snappy agent character with her headset.

The piece briefly raises the question of whether a woman can keep loving a trans woman but it’s thrown into the mix in such a way that only muddies things, and this coupled with the idea that Grace might be – is – dead, adds to the overall feel of confusion.

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Confused series of sketches about performance and gender identity