Fuckboy – Bitesize Festival, Riverside Studios, London

Reviewer: Richard Maguire

Writer: Freddie Haberfellner

Director: Isobel Jacob

Brave, but lacking layers of theatricality, Freddie Haberfellner’s monologue about a trans person taking the first step to self-authenticity is playing at the Riverside Studio’s second Bitesize Festival of 2024. Fuckboy is an honest 55 minutes, but the play is delivered in the same heightened tone throughout and a subplot about Spider-Man’s Andrew Garfield brings little to the table.

Constructed around three time periods, the main thrust of Fuckboy takes place on a late-night tube, as our protagonist, played by Haberfellner, goes home to Richmond after clubbing in the city. He has secreted in his pocket a pair of scissors and initially the audience is not sure what he will do with them. This journey home, almost in real-time, is the most interesting of the piece.

The second narrative relates to the few hours before this journey when the protagonist is dancing in the nightclub. Happy until he feels his breasts bouncing on his chest, the protagonist takes refuge in the bathroom.

The third and least successful of the time frames is the fantasy about Garfield and the film star’s secret affair with our hero. Selecting someone in the audience to represent Garfield, Haberfellner’s character declares his true love for the movie star knowing that Garfield would love him whatever body he has. Oddly, there is another show playing in London about an imaginary relationship with a Spider-Man actor. I’m Gonna Marry You Tobey Maguire now on at the Southwark Playhouse is a hoot, but Fuckboy’s obsession with Garfield is not funny and the way his presence in the story is eventually explained is unsatisfactory.

It’s always a relief to be back on the train as the stations flash past. Seated on the opposite side of the carriage is a, presumably cisgender, couple and our protagonist wonders if they too are forced to pinpoint, by doctors and family, the precise moment that they realised they were cisgender in the same way that trans people are expected to name the date of their epiphany which revealed to them their trans identity. Of course, these are the kind of questions that Travis Alabanza interrogates in their invaluable book, None of The Above. In a nice touch, Haberfellner suggests that society shouldn’t try to read trans people like novels where character arcs are determined by life-changing events.

Despite offering the audience various ways the scissors could be used, the end of the play is a little predictable which undermines the pay-off such a monologue should possess. But these are early days for Fuckboy and, certainly, it will only get better.

Runs until 14 July 2024

Bitesize Festival runs until 28 July 2024

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The Reviews Hub London is under the acting editorship of Richard Maguire. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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