The journey from Bob to Susan is told in a non-linear way, beginning with a near-death scare that finally convinced Bob to transition into Susan full time. Both Bob and Susan are present for much of the play, portrayed by two different actors, but with a connection between them and a similarity of physicality that makes it easy to see them as one person. They converse with each other as they navigate their life, from Bob as a young child telling his mother he's a little girl not a little boy; through Bob's marriage to Mae, with whom he was honest about his true self from the very beginning; to Susan's emergence; to her swearing in as St. Paul's deputy mayor. Along the way she faced many challenges, as well as support, sometimes from unexpected places. She also discovered a past life, which feels a little like an unnecessary digression, but is part of her truth. For a first time playwright, the story is remarkably well told, with humor, humanity, and honesty.
|Bob (Sean Michael Dooley), Susan (Freya Richman), and Mae|
(Jamie White Jachimiec, photo by Rick Spaulding)
|memories swirl around Susan|
(Freya Richman, photo by Rick Spaulding)
I applaud History Theatre for telling this story at this time, but I'm not surprised; their work continually fosters and supports unheard voices in local history. The playbill contains some great information and a glossary around transgender issues (compiled by dramaturg Catherine Charles Hammond), terms that can be confusing for those unfamiliar. This is an inspiring human story that can't help but create empathy in the audience for our transgender fellow citizens.
Superman Becomes Lois Lane continues at the HERstory Theatre in downtown St. Paul through March 1.