Constructed as verbatim theatre out of interviews Catherine McGregor has given over her lifetime, Still Point Turning: the Catherine McGregor Story is less a narrative, or the ever popular trans narrative, and more a staged biopic, simply explaining what happened and what it felt like for McGregor to live through it. I had a lot of misgivings about this production when it was first announced; thinking that with her politics and position, McGregor didn’t have anything new to say to me. After reading assistant director Charles O’Grady’s Audrey Journal article about his experience within the production and considering McGregor’s impact on Australian discourse throughout her transition, I realised I was approaching this story all wrong.
A pseudo-autobiographical recount of the aftermath of the publication of her memoir, Banana Girl, Michele Lee’s new play bends the boundaries of past and present, reality and dreams in an exploration of the self as daughter, writer, woman, and outsider. Following her alter ego Natalie Yang through an out of control downward spiral of self-doubt, professional and personal failure, and disappointment with the illusion of success, Going Down contains all the elements of a powerful contemporary mirror for the millennial generation.
This isn’t a show I can really review because, structurally, it is multiple, repeated, and overlapping accounts of domestic violence. I’m not particularly interested in critiquing how “good” or “entertaining” this show was because I’d rather spend our time talking about why Lethal Indifference, and shows like it, are important and essential to our broader community.
If you, like me, have heard the stories, know the facts, and can rattle off statistics at the drop of a #notallmen, then this show will not surprise you. If you watch the news or spend any time on social media, this show will ring familiar to you, as well. But this show is true. Every day, this show is terrifyingly, petrifyingly, cruelly true.
An STC production of a Caryl Churchill script is almost a promise of something glittering and sarcastic, like Kip Williams’s two previous Churchill productions with the company, Love and Information (2015) and Cloud Nine (2017). Imara Savage’s opening image of Marlene (Helen Thomson) in an outrageously 80s blue sequinned dress, hair up to here, under a dazzling silver ceiling, even seemed a nod to Williams’s sharp, silent tableaus in both Love and Cloud. However, Top Girls overall lacked a clarity which dulled Churchill’s criticism of the impact class has on feminism, politics, and privilege.