Theatre review: Sound Cistem, ZOO Playground, Edinburgh

Beyond binary boundaries.
Sound Cistem, ZOO Playground  Playground 1 (Venue 186)Sound Cistem, ZOO Playground  Playground 1 (Venue 186)
Sound Cistem, ZOO Playground Playground 1 (Venue 186)

Sound Cistem, ZOO Playground, Edinburgh * * * *

Film critics have long talked about the ‘male gaze’ – the way our culture constantly frames women as objects for men to look at rather than recognising them as full people with complex inner lives. Another term, the ‘cisgender gaze’, describes how trans people are constantly framed as objects of fascination or hostility for cis (non-trans) people.

Sound Cistem, created and performed by Lizzie Morris and Ayden Brouwers, is a tremendously powerful, moving and ultimately euphoric dance-based show about resisting the dehumanising effects of the cis gaze and moving – with effort and beauty – toward trans love and pleasure on trans terms.

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Morris and Brouwers use a varied movement vocabulary that sometimes mirrors the spoken material directly.

A crassly over-apologetic girl’s performed abjection becomes a smug yoga move; discussion of the pressure to conform to gender stereotypes plays out as a constraining struggle; the exhaustion of living in a cis world is shown to be, well, exhausting. It’s a rich and revelatory survey of complex emotions and insights rarely available to cis audiences, realised with passion, indignation and defiant joy.

Until 26 August

Ben Walters