Review: Too Pretty to Punch – Sarah MacDonald

Show: Too Pretty to Punch
Venue: ZOO @ the Southside
Stars: *****
Reviewer: Sarah MacDonald

Spoken word and “digital comedy cabaret” combine in Edalia Day’s evocative performance about the reality of growing up trans in “Too Pretty to Punch”. The poetry, music and digital videography all come together to provide an in-depth analysis of the politics of growing up boxed in by expectations of a binary mainstream. The show clearly communicates the violence of media misrepresentation of trans experience and the reality of expecting support from trans spaces but recognising that there can be challenges in manoeuvring within those spaces too if it challenges binary expectations. Day acknowledges the history of trans erasure that has created the politics in spaces which respectfully and defiantly encourages a wider scope to support all trans individuals. The performance brings trans visibility to the forefront and educates us, whilst also entertaining and confronting the audience with truths.

  The spoken word performance is so effective because Day dives into the reality of what it is to face dysphoria, violence, and the “Devil’s Advocates” of this world who masquerade as friends. The performance challenges us to consider the genderqueer identities that exist beyond a masculine/feminine binary while also engaging with the palpable anguish of experiencing discrimination and internalising the messages of hate that can be propagated against trans individuals. The poetry, music and digital representations are beautifully woven together by Day who challenges the audience with these ideas using physical theatre to deconstruct the messages of discrimination.

The staging, digital masterpiece and lighting design draw the audience into Day’s experience: a portrayal of coming of age and growing up in a world that can be so barbed for young trans people, from acknowledging their identity to living through the day-to-day. The narrative is informative, witty, and at times painful as we steep in the damage done by preconceived notions of the boxes people contain and marginalise themselves into. With the help of creative visuals, Too Pretty to Punch also explores how those boxes are perpetually broken out of, and highlights the propensity for people to create new boxes that don’t amputate elements of their very existence.

 Day’s performance also looks with hope at the present experience of trans young people and the positive representation available through the internet. This show acknowledges the importance of finding others who can represent to young trans folx that they are not alone. One of the final sections of the performance provides a visual collage of some of the YouTubers, celebrities and performers who have worked hard to provide trans representation – this is powerful. Despite the attempts of the media to distort trans narratives; these artists, from across the disciplines, provide a positive form of representation that is so prevalent that it cannot be misconstrued. Day’s voice is a pertinent feature in this mixture – as this performance proves without fail.

Poetry from the performance is available after the show which is moving in its own right, but proves particularly useful as a means of sharing with LGBT+ young people that they are not alone and that there is hope.

I highly recommend this performance as not just a strong piece of queer theatre, but as a sincere and genuine narrative that would impact any audience. Day’s interaction with us not only gives a responsibility for the story over to the audience, but also creates a palpable message about constructions in society of expectations and norms. Too Pretty to Punch is a magnificent tapestry of gender expectations; the consequences of not fitting those boxes; and represents the strength of existing in a queer identity that transcends these. 


Too Pretty to Punch – tickets available here
ZOO @ The Southside
Aug 3-26 (not 14)

13:25am (60 minutes)

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