Travesty – a new play by Liam Williams
Guest post by Raphael Korber Hoffman
Liam Williams’ debut play Travesty, which has transferred to London after a sell-out run at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, is an honest insight into modern relationships. The play revolves around the issue of gender as a frame through which to examine the six-month relationship between two twenty-somethings trying to find meaning in their lives.
Williams adds a twist by having the male actor act Anna and a woman act the boyfriend, Ben. This gender swap succeeds in making the audience more aware of stereotypes; having to consistently remind ourselves of how the actor who physically appeared as a man was in fact female and vice versa. This overturned gender stereotypes by making the man desperate to keep the relationship and the woman reluctant to settle down and wanting to keep up the ‘experimentation’ in her life. In this way, Williams is successful in intellectually challenging the audience to reconsider the conventional male-female roles in relationships. Whether or not the gender swapping is a gimmick – it certainly packs a punch and is subtly approached.
The dialogue is continually sharp, fluid and often humorous with Williams’ background in stand-up comedy being used to good effect. The performances too feel genuine, despite the switched genders and it is to the actors’ credit that after the audience’s initial confusion, they are able to convincingly sustain their cross-gender identities.
Indeed, the play is able to draw in the audience to such an extent that we feel genuine sympathy for both characters when the relationship reaches its end. We witness their relationship unravel in an hour which is both exciting, tense and painful. Travesty takes the audience on an emotional journey of a doomed relationship, but also addresses issues of class, consumerism and the meaning of life in an accessible and often humorous way.
Travesty, now showing at the New Diorama Theatre, 15-16 Triton Street, Regents Place, London, NW1 3BF until 10 September.