‘Triple X’ was explosive.
After being delayed 12 months thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, Queensland Theatre’s latest is a work that needs to be seen to be believed. Written by and starring Australian-born, New York-based trans comedian Glace Chase, ‘Triple X’ is a true story. It revolves around Dixie, a trans performer living in New York, and her love affair with straight man Scotty, a Wall Street banker. What follows is a confronting, yet humorous drama about gender, masculinity and love in all its forms. Marketed as the first mainstage trans love story, with a smart and biting script, bold design choices, strong direction and full-bodied performances, ‘Triple X’ is not a play to miss.
In many ways, the true star of ‘Triple X’ is the script. Told non-linearly, the work demands the audience pays attention so as to not miss a moment. Jumping back and forward in time, the script manages to keep both timelines straight and allows for foreshadowing and references to occur across the past and the present. Chase’s script is boldly refreshing in how it mixes tragedy and comedy, making the audience laugh, cry, cringe and gasp ….over and over again.
Running at over two hours, ‘Triple X’ could have easily dragged, if not for the subtle but strong direction of Paige Rattray. Choosing to create a tone and a pace both fast and light, Rattray highlights the humour while never shying away from the darker moments; always hiding behind the laughs.
While on the surface, the design elements of this play might seem secondary to the performances and the strong script. Look deeper and you realise that Renee Mulder’s costume and set design are the backbone on which the script and performances stand. Through Dixie’s performative gowns and Scotty’s lavish New York apartment, the costumes and set go a long way in telling us what we need to know about our characters. With strong support by Ben Hughes’s lighting design, helping the audience keep track of where we are in time and space, plus Kelly Ryall’s sound design, transforming the stage from seedy nightclub to New York Highrise, the design elements work together to craft a story of their own while simultaneously supporting the script and the performances.
Not only did Chase write ‘Triple X’; she also stars as Dixie, but avoids self-indulgence or hogging the spotlight. Instead, she allows the ensemble of performers around her to shine just as brightly. It would be easy to list the whole cast and gush about each of them in turn. But to name just a few: Josh McConville is remarkable as the ever-conflicted Scotty, bringing life to a character that on the page might appear whiney and indecisive. Christen O’Leary steals scenes as Scotty’s ever-demanding mother, Deborah bringing her full body to every moment. But really, all the performances work together as one to bring this show to life.
As a cis-gendered straight white man reviewing this play, I noticed ‘Triple X’ appealed broadly to a range of audience members, without sacrificing its authenticity in the process. It was a privilege and a joy to return to the Billie Brown Theatre to see a story that needs to be told.
‘Triple X’ performs until Thursday, 1 April at The Billie Brown Theatre. For tickets and show information (including themes and details), please visit Queensland Theatre’s website.
Photography Brett Boardman