At the start of this piece that is definitely not about Hong Kong, we are asked not to take photographs. This is because the performers, who are absolutely not from Hong Kong, could face persecutions under China’s National Security Bill if they were caught making a show about Hong Kong. But this is all hypothetical, because this physical theatre show is not about Hong Kong.
In 1965, a Canadian couple give birth to identical twin boys, Brian and Bruce. When Bruce’s circumcision is botched and he is left without a penis, a doctor convinces his parents that the best way forward is to raise him as a girl. He thinks that with hormones and clear gender roles, Bruce – now Brenda – will be able to lead a normal life. The desperate parents eventually agree. This true story, dramatised by two adult performers and a zoo of soft toys, emphasises how enforcing strictly-defined gender binaries and stereotypes can have far-reaching, tragic consequences.
Fresh from a West End run several months ago, Wonderville has hunkered down to do its own residency at its own purpose-built venue at the former Planet Hollywood café in London’s Haymarket, a few minutes from Piccadilly Circus. Here for an open-ended run, there is a mix of magic and variety acts, playing on rotation.