Based on the life of a transgender person, born Eugenia Falleni, The Trouble with Harry explores Harry Crawford’s struggle to live as a man in the 1920s. The harrowing journey covers issues in gender, abuse, family and crime. Through each emotive character, the audience takes a glimpse into what faces a transgender person in a period of ignorance.
The Australian play by Lachlan Philpott is based on the true story of Harry Crawford, who was born a female but lived through two marriages to women as a male working-class citizen in Sydney. Although the public at the time believed Harry to be perverted, The Trouble with Harry peels back the sensationalism and seeps into the raw emotion experienced by him and his family.
The Siren Theatre Co. production is exceptionally cast, with Harry played by Jodie Le Visconte. Apart from looking uncannily like the real man, Le Visconte allows us to feel the agony that Harry goes through in striving to become his true self. There is so much depth to the performance, every posture, glance and line of dialogue has so much weight to it.
Harry’s family, including his wife Annie Birkett (Jane Phegan), her son Harry Birkett (Jonas Thomson) and his daughter Josephine (Bobbie-Jean Henning), build on Le Visconte’s portrayal to a world-class standard. The tension and uneasiness of family life are strewn across their faces, evident in the things that they say, and often in the silences in between.
Man (Thomas Campbell) and Woman (Niki Owen) added another layer to the play. Providing a commentary on the unfolding story, and even sometimes tapping into the audiences’ thoughts. They were anonymous, representing a whole community of people, yet really stood out individually with their booming voices sweeping on and off the stage.
The set is stunningly designed and the action paced well. We were very easily thrust back to this period yet couldn’t help but think how different Harry’s life would have been if he lived here and now. The Trouble with Harry is a very poignant and enduring story, well worth a watch.
The Trouble with Harry is playing at Sydney’s Reginald Theatre, Seymour Centre until March 3rd. The reviewer went to the performance on February 18th.
Photo credit: Clare Hawley