Triple X (QT) – theatre review

Triple X is an honest and moving love story that is powerful and entertaining. Scotty (Josh McConville) is living the dream. A successful Wall Street banker, he is about to marry his beautiful and rich girlfriend. On the eve of their wedding, his family descends on his recently purchased multi-million dollar Tribeca loft. There are philosophical differences between Scott, his just-returned-from-Nepal, socially-conscious, lesbian sister Claire (Contessa Treffone) and his straight-out-of-Kentucky, conservative mother Deborah (Christen O’Leary).

Photos by Brett Boardman

Behind the brash excess of the masculine veneer he bounces off his friend Jase (Elijah Williams), Scotty is really existing in internally-conflicted quiet desperation. He wonders what he is doing with his life. We come to realise that through flashbacks to his ongoing affair with charismatic trans drag performer Dexie (Glace Chase), a self-proclaimed typical stop on men’s journey to their sexual destination. Scotty and Dexi are soon caught up in a bad (but raunchy) romance. With his secret on his mind, Scotty must make a choice between the comfort of familiarity and the fulfilment of a future he never envisioned.

The story is told from the unique perspective of its straight male protagonist. McConville is excellent as Scotty, giving a performance that reflects the different layers of his character. It is playwright Glace Chase (originally from Australia, but who left for New York almost a decade ago), however, who not only gives audiences the first Australian main stage love story involving a transgender person, but also a phenomenal performance. Trace is magnetic as the candid Dexi, bold but vulnerable and funny, except when trying to be on stage in her club act. She is likeable and genuine. Indeed, she and Scotty are both presented as very real characters. O’Leary, too, gifts Scotty’s mum a familiarity, as she expresses what she is thinking.

Designer Renee Mulder has provided a stylish, split level set to locate the action in Scotty’s home. There’s a great attention to detail in the production. The outstanding script sees themes of toxic masculinity, societal expectations, gender politics and love woven together. Chase’s clever, honest writing takes us from hilarity, courtesy of O’Leary’s physical comedy of alarm, to shocking and sad moments that audibly reverberate around the audience.

Triple X comes with a list of warnings: it contains blackouts and the use of herbal cigarettes,but also frequent strong language, nudity, adult themes, including domestic violence and references to suicide, drug use, sexual references and sex scenes. And the production’s Intimacy and Fight Director Nigel Poulton’s hand hovers over many sections. Under Paige Rattray’s direction, things never sit too long in the story’s trauma. The themes are balanced and the audience is left with a lasting message of the importance of hope, although the work does include transphobic language and acts of violence that may be triggering for some audience members.

Its honest commentary on the complicated issues of gender and sexuality may initially appear to indicate that Triple X is a production not for the feint-hearted, three curtain calls on opening night suggest otherwise. It is wickedly funny, moving and provocative and needs to be seen.

Triple X is playing at the Bille Brown Theatre until April 1.

Meredith Walker
For more of Meredith Walker’s writings on theatre, check out Blue Curtains Brisbane

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