Written by Travis Alabanza
Directed by Sam Curtis Lindsay
Designed by Soutra Gilmour
Reviewer: Dominic Corr
In April 2016, a burger was thrown at Travis Alabanza. With it was hurled a transphobic slur, compelling Alabanza to write Burgerz as an attempt to archive the everyday pain and rip back some agency from the day to day violence that the trans and gender non-conforming community receive.
In part educational, Burgerz rings of a therapeutic piece – or at least this is how Alabanza envisions the outcome. That, by re-examining the construct of a burger, maybe they can grasp the malice in why it was thrown. Maybe, just maybe, if we can replicate the stains of the grease, the stench of mayonnaise or the plumpness of the beef – we can address our complacency with transphobic abuse.
You may have noticed that I said ‘we’. This isn’t the royal we, oh no, Alabanza requires some aid in making this burger. They need the help of a kind-hearted, well-meaning, white, straight identifying male. Why the hell not? This is, perhaps, the only available space in which Alabanza has the authority to pose a direct question to a predominately white, cisgender audience. The fact they require a stage to manage this speaks to the productions creative conception.
Half-popup burger bar, half safe-space kitchen, Soutra Gilmour’s set design has sleek layers in build. It’s a neat, tidy package which can be folded away a clearly labelled, rather like a box in which we could put
Savagely unflinching in its deformation, yet without an ounce of malice. Alabanza is charming, humorous and approachable, even when emotions become volatile. To remind us that, even as we call ourselves ‘supporters’ and ‘allies’ the time for outrage is long overdue, the time for action was decades ago.
Alabanza isn’t asking for sympathy. They aren’t begging us to feel like good middle-class white people who ‘get’ the black transgender person’s message. This is a wake-up call, a reminder that we’re part of the problem and we always have been. This is the future of performing arts – unforgiving, creative and relentless.
Runs until 25 August 2019 (not 19) | Image: Lara Cappelli