Gender has always been a means of policing behaviour. We look at one’s genitals at birth and assign a whole universe of expectations that have nothing to do with the individual’s own nature and desires. The world is split in two halves, male and female, and any deviation that threatens to transgress that dichotomy is traditionally prohibited.
In Clare Hennessy’s pseudo sci-fi Transience, society continues to monitor us through gender expression, but this time only one mode of existence is permitted. The script is rich with modern ideas, and memorable for its progressive and discerning attitude. Although its concepts are deeply contemplated and well articulated, its plot does not develop far enough to create a stronger sense of narrative. A quirky comedy is effectively manufactured throughout, although its character’s emotions are depicted too gently to elicit a more empathetic response.
An accomplished cast of youthful actors is impressively connected with the material at hand. Passionate and accurate with the play’s messages, their portrayals convey an inspiring and firm sense of purpose. There are issues, however, with conversational rhythms causing the show’s pace to feel excessively ambling. That aside, proficient work from lighting designer Liam O’Keefe and composer Nick Turton offer valuable variance to the production’s mood that helps retain our attention.
Transience is concerned not only with gender. It is also a discussion on matters of free speech and social cohesion. With the advent of information technology and social media, democracy has evolved into a new beast that demands a constant evaluation on how our voices are heard. As individuals gain ever-increasing access to platforms for their unitary thoughts and politics, it is tempting to see humankind as being fractured and divided. Our egos want to feel special and we want always to be recognised as different from the rest, but in fact, our humanity is only, if ever, slightly divergent. Unity of life is an ultimate truth, but our minds do not easily come to terms with it.