Thursday, August 02, 2012

Out of Towners - Rebecca Kling - Storms Beneath Her Skin

Are you a boy or a girl? Are you sure? I am transgender, which complicates things. This show is about my experience, as well as apologies, surgery, the equations of sex, the weather, boobs, and more. 

"The first time I had to lift something heavy [after acquiring breasts], a girl friend said to me, 'Yeah, suck it up.  It's much harder now.'"

Rebecca Kling knows how to work a room.

After seeing this preview at the Out of Towner showcase, I feel a little bad for slotting her into my Top 20 at 13.  While it's not a scientific ranking of merit or anything, after this preview, I'm thinking she surely should be up in the Top 10.  She's that good.  In fact, if I ever have the pleasure of meeting her, I'll probably make the mistake of saying something silly for which there is no polite response like, "You're fantastic."  (Update: before posting this, I did meet her out and about handing out her postcards and managed to tell her how much I liked her preview and was looking forward to the show without embarrassing myself.  Score one for improving social skills around talented people.)

The lady takes no prisoners and makes no apologies.  She's not confrontational.  She's just interested in spreading truth and having an honest conversation.  The topic of sexuality and gender identity is a slippery one, and it might make some folks uncomfortable.  But they probably aren't the Fringers who'd go to her show anyway.  And that's a minority of Fringe audience members.  We come to the Fringe to experience something different, and saying Kling has a different kind of show is probably an understatement.

But this isn't a dry infomercial or documentary presentation about the transgender experience.  Kling has the verbal dexterity of a storyteller, and the wit and adaptability to gauge and perform to her audience like the best stand-up comics.  She's entertaining, and she has something to say.  It's a great combination of messenger and message.  She also seems infinitely patient (a skill I'm sure she had to acquire over the years).  She wants to bring her audience with her on the journey and she's willing to meet them more than halfway.  At the same time, she's not going to dumb anything down, or sugarcoat any discomfiting bit of reality.  It makes for a bracing preview, and I'm sure an equally eye-opening show.  Both Mom and I are really looking forward to this one.

Plus it was fun to have Robin reading the introductory show blurb from the website and need to say, "I'm transgender."  Robin is thrown by nothing.

Storms Beneath Her Skin's first performance is Saturday 8/4 at 4pm at Patrick's Cabaret.

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