Rachael’s Café at the Old Red Lion
The world we live in today, however progressive it may seem, is still plagued by archaic values and prejudice. One day we’ll hear of marriage equality in one city or another; the next we’ll hear about a young teenager being bullied beyond comprehension for being gay or transgender – for simply being who they are.
Rachael’s Café, “the one (wo)man show” as the programme insists, is a look into the troubled (and simultaneously beautifully rewarding) life of a transgender woman in America. Based on a true story, this performance is decidedly not for the closed-minded. Graham Elwell breathes life into a character that we rarely see onstage, and delves into the issues surrounding gender identity, sexuality, and labelling, to bring a truly career-defining performance.
The show, only an hour long, is essentially a monologue, a one-sided conversation. Rachael, owner of the café, shares her life with the audience while finishing off her daily routine before she’s due to travel to her daughter’s school for an award ceremony. As Rachael tells us of her life the burgeoning question of arriving as Rachael, her true self, or as Eric (her former identity) in order to protect her family, comes into play.
Lucy Danser, writer and director, shows a story never seen before on this level. Non-fiction is a difficult challenge; portraying the life of another person, while at the same time showing respect and due justice – there are so many points along the line that it could go wrong. Be assured that Rachael’s Café does indeed do its bit for the progressive community, hilariously delving into this inspiring and courageous history.
Not without brilliant splices of humour throughout, this indelible play is a must-see. For too long the transgender community has been misrepresented – or poorly represented – onstage and in film and TV. Thought-provoking, admirable and a spectacular delight, Rachael’s Café is something you can’t afford to miss out on experiencing.
Photo: Anton Belmonté