Following acclaimed runs at Brisbane Powerhouse and The Blue Room Theatre, Zac Callaghan’s one-person show, Queer As Flux, finally hits Sydney highlighting how all of us, as individuals and as a culture, are constantly in flux, transitioning, and becoming something new. When you come to think of it, perhaps we’re all a bit trans. In Sydney Opera House’s Studio space, a Drag Queen Fairy Godmother, Polly Tickle (as in poli-tical, get it?), is opening the library on queer history, and one personal history in particular, theirs. Unwrapping their autobiography, Callaghan who was assigned female at birth, describes their initial struggles with their gender. Finding community in the circus and the theatre, surviving cancer and more thanks to their unique superpowers, they blossom into the adult they are today.
For around 75 minutes you’ll be transfixed by the poetry of Callaghan’s monologue (there are so many alliterative turns-of-phrases that it’s almost hard to keep up) and by the slow, sometimes difficult evolution happening in front of you. Callaghan is a seasoned performer, and impresses as they constantly morph between younger and older versions of themselves to deliver this story.
At times, Queer As Flux feels a little scrappy and make-shift, a bit lost in the large space of the Opera House Studio, but it soon sinks its hooks in and Callaghan’s life is fascinating tale of strength, adaptability, and optimism. There are moments of pure joy along the way, like a young Zac playing with a Hulk action figure and feeling kinship with his strength and lack of visible genitals. With each hurdle they face, Callaghan steps up with a new personal superpower to tackle the moment.
This isn’t just a show for queer folks to see our histories reflected back at us, there is a lot here for those who may not fully understand or appreciate trans experiences. Told with humour, openness and a little bit of spice, Callaghan takes the audience through their life’s journey, right up to today. It’s enlightening to hear the experiences of a 50-year-old trans masculine Australian as much as it is to relive their confused and painful childhood. As the show puts it, we never stop transitioning.
Callaghan has been touring Queer As Flux for over a year now and it has arrived in Sydney ready to play. The staging has some neat tricks up its sleeve that I won’t spoil, and the manic energy of the scene changes will keep you fully engaged. I walked out to a view of the glorious Sydney Harbour Bridge on a balmy evening feeling uplifted and entertained, and maybe just a little bit more Polly Tickle myself.
By Chad Armstrong
Queer As Flux played at the Sydney Opera House Studio as part of the biannual UnWrapped season of short, sharp, and surprising events from independent creators.