Week One Reviews – GC…AF

GC…AF Teachers Club, Main Hall, 9pm until Saturday May 11th with Saturday matinee at 4pm

This latest satire by Garret Baker on transphobia is a brave and biting commentary on what ‘informs’ the toxic online transphobic campaigns and gives an insight into the people caught up in them. It makes for uncomfortable listening, but transphobia is more than a discomfort for those subjected to it. 

It is a brave thing for any writer these days to try to set out on stage the toxicity and its origins, that too often pollute our online feeds. Too many on all sides, rush to mute any debate unless it conforms to the views of either extremes. GC stands for ‘gender critical’. It in itself is a concept that deserves exploration. 

Baker does this with an unbleached narrative, a strong cast of contrasting characters and a ‘debate’ that sails very close to the wind at times. We are included in a zoom meeting of seven concerned women and an ‘honorary woman’…a strange concept for such a group, which includes an embittered man. 

In constructing his characters, Baker challenges the LGB community by including a lesbian couple and an academic lesbian. It reminds us that our sense of ‘community’ can fall apart in times of division. Of course, there is no ‘community’ or religion in assuming we all agree. It is not a requirement for membership of the rainbow nation, but the assumption remains and any difference expressed, is often reacted to with instant intolerance. Nothing is achieved by that. It just reduces the reach of a community that previously were expert in growing their constituency of allies. 

The GCAF zoom meeting is also a power struggle. A battle of zealots. In this, the diversity of characters including those who now encounter trans people as a result of their visibility and the challenges of responding to the person rather than the pronoun. Some are excluded, some are rejected, some remain. The tone reminded me a little of ‘Abomination – The DUP Opera’ without the music, but the main difference here is that Baker gives a voice to both sides, when the former relied solely on opaque satire for balance and it failed. 

There is a stellar ensemble of well pitched and beautifully delivered performances. Michelle Costello (JM), Jemma Curran (UT) and Linda Ryan (AK) bring in the human elements with raw emotion. Jessica Irwin (DG) and her partner Tanya Karita (HG) sit on the fence with the funny and often offended Linda O’Flaherty (BB) who brings so much lightness to the toxicity. Benny Redmond (GQ) and Sarah Noll (SP) lead the zealous charge with their version of science and morality. It is a powerful argument well played.

This is a grown-up conversation. It is very uneasy listening at times. But you must know how the opposition works, thinks and operates, if they are ever to be overcome. In this Baker has done some service. Zoom in and listen. 



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