Re: Construct was one of my pre-Fringe picks going into this year’s festival and I am happy to announce that I was not disappointed by theatre decentred’s final result. A show that reflects on identity politics, sexuality, and trying to fit in by way of a simple cake-decorating metaphor, this a piece that speaks to the ever-growing discourse surrounding binary gender constructs and the trans experience. Easily one of my favourite pieces to come from a local company in recent years, Re: Construct is not to be missed.
Surrounded by an arc of clothing racks with various structural drawings hung from hangers with a three-tiered-pile of plastic boxes placed centre stage, the two performers begin to consider the best and most effective way to decorate their “cake”. Along the way, memories are brought up, seemingly from a past life, where the performers reflect on who they’ve become, how they got there, and what would have changed had they done things differently. Themes surrounding feeling beautiful and/or uncomfortable in one’s skin are not necessarily issues that are exclusive to the trans community and because of this sense of universality, we are able to empathize to some degree with the character’s on stage.
This is important because there is a wide swath of the population that remains confused about (willfully or otherwise) or even closed off to the recent shift towards accepting a more fluid gender spectrum and so, instead of lecturing their audiences, the company has taken a more aesthetic route and allows the audience to reflect on the connections they can make between the characters on stage and their own lives in a much gentler way. Even further, Re: Construct is important simply because it’s a story that speaks directly to the lived experiences of trans individuals and this is something rarely seen on stage here in Ottawa. To be sure, it is not exclusively the responsibility of artists from marginalized communities to teach privileged people or to always speak to these political issues, however, when theatre is a medium that can inspire such change in its viewers, we absolutely need companies like theatre decentred to keep constructing these stories in clever and creative ways.
I could honestly go on for pages and pages about how strong this show is, but I think people should just see it to believe it. It’s a thoughtfully constructed show that will touch the deepest recesses of your heart. Keep this new company on your radar, you won’t regret it.
By Even Gilchrist
Presented by theatre decentred
Performed by Even Gilchrist and Cullen Petersen
Directed by Luke Brown
Stage Management by Katie Rochford
Venue 2: Odd Box