Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird

By Peter Newling

If this esteemed website offered star ratings for its reviews, this would be a five star review.

Any Melbournite with a capacity for empathy will have been horrified by the recent scenes of anti-trans hatred appearing on the steps of our Parliament House, backed up by conspiracy theorists and saluting Nazis. It is against this troubling backdrop that Melbourne is playing host to what I believe to be one of the most timely and important hours of comedy we’ve seen in years.

Jordan Gray is a trans woman. Over the course of the hour, she shares her story, her soul, and (note the nudity warning) her body with us. Using a superhero theme, Jordan picks away at the hypocrisy underpinning anti-trans sentiment, asking us to help her understand how people can idolise a man who transforms into a bat, yet struggle with a man who transforms into a woman. The title of the show works on so many levels.

Make no mistake – it’s breathtakingly hilarious. This show has toured extensively over the past year or two and has rightly achieved critical acclaim wherever it’s been, including earning Gray a best show nomination at last year’s Edinburgh Festival.

The material is well honed and perfectly balanced. Spoken parts of the set are delivered with huge energy and unrelenting joy. Her exaggerated physicality and expression make the joy infectious – it flows off the stage and engulfs the audience. Her audience interaction is playful and non-threatening.

The songs are a highlight of the show. Her musicality is phenomenal. Brilliant keyboard skills are matched by an amazing voice. And the writing is outstanding. Minchin-esque, the songs are lively, irreverent, topical and bloody hilarious. She performs them with every molecule of her being.

The closing line is heartbreaking.

In some ways it’s a shame this show is playing in a venue which only allows 129 people per night to see it. It’s great to see that an additional show, in a much bigger venue, has been added. I hope it doesn’t lose its intimacy.

All of us will have seen shows that have stayed in our minds days after the event. This one is unforgettable.

Jordan Gray – Is It A Bird is playing at the Melbourne Town Hall Powder Room until April 23.
The Saturday April 22 show has been relocated to Max Watt’s.