by Laura Kressly
As “the man she always wanted to be”, Chloe Petts is a devoted Crystal Palace football fan who embraces and is (mostly) embraced by lad culture. Her fellow season ticket holders who sit nearby, all very manly men, accept her as one of their own but she has issues when she goes to the loo. Over the course of this low-key hour Petts considers the effects of whether she is perceived as a woman or a man by those around her, and how this relates to the right-wing instigated culture war about trans people. It’s a pointed, provocative and very funny debut with heaps of promise.
Petts starts by introducing her queerness by way of her teenage self. An analysis of what looks like a photo from a school prom, documenting her strict adherence to young women’s style norms, is hilariously self-deprecating and shows just how far she’s come. Now that she’s fully herself and comfortable in her own skin, she can ridicule her younger self’s worries about passing as straight, the gender constraints resulting in transphobes questioning if she’s in the right toilet, and banter with the men in the audience about having their babies.
Though comedians can come across as combative, Petts is jovial and relaxed. Her audience interaction is extremely chilled, though she doesn’t lack in confidence or stage presence. This also doesn’t mean she holds anything back, just that her punchline delivery is almost thrown away. She employs a real artfulness that balances a conversational tone with performative emphasis, but she consistently hits the mark and no one misses her culminating thought about who uses what toilet – “it’s all just poo and wee.”
Chloe Petts: Transience runs through 28 August.
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