Bethany Black: Beth Becomes Her

Note: This review is from 2008

Review by Steve Bennett

How’s this for a twist on the ubiquitous dick jokes? A personal tale of how one comic lost hers. Not on the bus, obviously, but in a male-to-female sex change.

It’s an experience most people can’t begin to fathom. Some might be uncomfortable – appalled even – by the very idea. But the majority are likely to have a barrage of questions, from the curious to the prurient, none of which they could ever pose for fear of social paralysis should they ever encounter a transperson. This show, then, could truly be billed as ‘all you ever wanted to know about sex changes but were afraid to ask…’

Bethany Black proves a likeable guide through this potential minefield. She might not want this to be said: but for a lesbian, transgendered goth with a history of depression, she comes across as remarkably normal. And that’s why this show works so well – it’s not nearly as intimidating as the subject matter might suggest.

Clearly at home in her new body, Black has matter-of-fact approach to all surgical and emotional ordeal involved in turning from he to she. There’s always a deathly serious undercurrent to her tale, but it’s presented as a series of anecdotes in which Black never fails to see the funny side. The often inappropriate reaction of peripheral characters, such as her family and friends, also help jolly things along.

She has more than her share of sharply witty lines in this hour, and a personal journey that has great potential to enthral. How can you not listen in rapt attention to a tale like this? And Black can hold the room when there’s no obvious joke on the horizon.

This early performance has its flaws, in common with the other Leicester Comedy Festival shows that have their sights on the next Edinburgh Fringe, six months hence, as opposed to proven hits from last time around. But these are mainly concerned with reinforcing the structure to bring the audience along on a narrative and emotional journey. The conclusion, especially, seems rather forced and tagged-on – though you can’t deny her sincerity.

But while the show needs a cut here, and more exposition there before it hits the Scottish capital, the individual anecdotes are pitched perfectly, and even in such early days make for an engaging, and often very funny, hour from a decidedly different angle.

Reviewed by: Steve Bennett
Leicester, February 2008.

Review date: 1 Jan 2008
Reviewed by: Steve Bennett

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