REVIEW: Fringe Festival’s MONSTER

Welcome to the darkness

By Myron My


With its low lighting and large spacious rooms where you can only just see to the other end of it if you squint and focus, Revolt is the perfect venue for Monster, a horror-cabaret that looks at perceptions that the transgender community constantly battle.

Created by Daniel Gough and Danielle Starkey, we are welcomed into the dark and into the home of Madam (also performed by Gough) as she regales us with stories of her life. What starts as light-hearted enough slowly but then suddenly becomes dark and intense as Madam gives us an insight into life as a transgender person.

The lighting and set design support this darkening mood, building on the intimacy of a topic like transgender and also creating a claustrophobic mood in Madam’s attic apartment. The three “rooms” on set, the lounge, bathroom and bedroom, are where people are traditionally most honest with themselves and cannot escape their truth and it is quite fitting that the bathroom is where the most emotive and haunting moments take place in Monster.

Gough tackles the complexities of a transgender person with impressive results. You almost forget that Gough is reciting lines and performing on stage as Madam, especially with his consistency on playing out her mannerisms and nervous habits. He builds a strong emotional connection with the audience and the boldness and courage present in the final moments feel like a combination of loathing and loving self-acceptance for Madam.

Monster is a brilliantly horrific piece of theatre that looks at transgender people and the conflicts and issues they face but doesn’t accuse or threaten: instead, it leaves you questioning and looking to your own moral compass for answers on who the actual “monster” is.

Monster was performed at Revolt as part of the 2014 Melbourne Fringe Festival.