On Sunday I paid $45 to experience Michael Chiang’s flaccid Private Parts. I can safely say I have never felt so violated by transsexuals in my life.
The play’s biggest problem for me was that it was dreadfully paced. Starting the play with a drag/strip routine, good. Following this with a talk show scene where a housewife makes the same point about protecting the morality of society what feels like ten million times, each time as boring as the last, not good. Later on, when Mirabella was having her big long EMOTE! moment on the talk show, I sensed that this was the point where I was meant to be deeply moved by the loneliness and isolation of many transsexuals, suddenly realizing that this emotional hardship comes not just from without, but also from within. Unfortunately, I was more concerned with my own emotional hardship from being within the Esplanade Theatre watching this play when I was longing to be without.
Except for the actor who played Lavinia, the acting was mostly reminiscent of mediocre school plays. To call Jamie Yeo’s character one-dimensional would be crediting her with too much depth. The rest were insipid at best (Warren), and downright annoying at worst (Edward, Nurse Azman, the editor of the talk show).
When all else fails in a play involving sexuality, at least you can sometimes still glean some entertainment from the knob gags. Unfortunately not here. I like knob gags as much as the next Philistine, but not when I can see the joke coming 5 minutes beforehand.
I sat there twiddling my thumbs and stifling my sighs, and remembered a magical evening in London at an original practices production of Richard II, where a man in funny clothes (Richard) kissed another man in funny clothes (his Queen) and I was nearly moved to tears by the pathos of their goodbye.
On the Esplanade stage, I vaguely sensed important things were happening, and the play was probably near its end. Warren the talk-show host was being outed by his friends, the transsexuals, as having had to reconstruct his penis after a bizarre golf club accident. Mirabella was revealing her love for him and asking if he could ever love her back. I suppressed the urge to scream “Of course not, you whiny old bint!”, lay back, and thought of England.