NO I.D. (Royal Court Theatre)

Posted: April 20, 2023 in Theatre

photo: Marc Brenner

Writer: Tatenda Shamiso

Director: Sean Ting-Hsuan Wang


Tatenda Shamiso is a female-to-male transgender entertainer. His story is specific, but it has elements which should resonate with any of us who has wasted hours trying to fit square pegs into round holes or hanging on in a long queue, waiting to hear a real live human being speak at the other end of a telephone helpline.

Shamiso performs his short monologue, speaking in tones of sarcasm and frustration rather than indignation. He was born in California of a Belgian father and a Zimbabwean mother and he now resides in the United Kingdom. He refers to his former self, Thandie, as if she is a girl that he once knew or a friend with whom he has lost touch. She was a shy but precocious child, the apple of her father’s eye.

Thandie’s discomfort at being moulded to conform with conventional society’s ideas of what a girl should be is described wittily and the absurd criteria applied to reach a formal diagnosis of gender dysphoria are passed over with scorn. However, the process of Thandie’s transition to become Tatenda is not the main target for attack in Shamiso’s play. Rather it is the obstacles standing in the way of establishing a new identity once the transition is complete.

Passport and driving licence details must be amended, National Health Service records need changing, His (formerly Her) Majesty’s Revenue and Customs has to be told and so on. The one-size-fits-all mentality of officialdom overwhelms Tatenda as he strives to establish an identity to open the door to the basic essentials of modern life.

Director Sean Ting-Hsuan Wang gives Shamiso the freedom of the stage to dance, sing and play keyboards. He demonstrates the stifling impact of excessive bureaucracy by showering the stage with reams of paper in anarchic style. A mildly amusing hour passes quickly and the play is never less than enlightening. 

Performance date: 19 April 2023

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