Theatre Review: Comfort, Spin, Travel (Meraki Arts Bar, Sydney) ★★★★

Comfort, Spin, Travel is a story of trans frustration. Our narrator is spending a late night in a branch of Officeworks—a big box office supply chain—thinking about his past and his family, and trying to come to some kind of peace with the world around him. Is he a good person?

Written by Lu Bradshaw and wonderfully performed by Hadrian Conyngham and Rachel Seeto, this is a simple and bittersweet look at how the cis world reduces trans identity in a range of oppressive seemingly minor ways. At its core is one trans man questioning whether his inability to let these things slide makes him a bad man, or a flawed man, or maybe it’s making him a better man.

Hadrian Conyngham in Comfort, Spin, Travel. Photo credit: Matthew Miceli.

What responsibility does any minority have to the wider world? How many probing questions do we have to endure? How many teaching moments are we meant to patiently deliver to well-meaning allies? And if we get worn down by constantly having to justify our lives, are we the arsehole? Can you please just get the fuck out of our safe spaces now? These aren’t exclusively trans issues, but they are being more sharply felt with increased visibility and media focus on trans lives.

Conyngham shines in what is essentially a monologue, with occasional comic interruptions from Seeto as the lone employee on duty. As the narrative progresses, and the audience is asked to question how reliable the narrator is. Conyngham holds the viewer with a thoughtful, wounded gaze. Meanwhile Seeto, who also never leaves the stage, is an utter MVP. She litters the story with silent looks that lift the room when needed and give the show a fresh energy.

Hadrian Conyngham and Rachel Seeto in Comfort, Spin, Travel. Photo credit: Matthew Miceli.

Director Emma Burns keeps things moving in the small theatre, and simple but effective lighting choices by Thomas Hicks keep the space alive. Bradshaw’s writing is suffused with a simmering anger, kept in check by humour and excellent storytelling. It gives Comfort, Spin, Travel a tension that ebbs and flows, but never truly erupts. It’s internalized, as our anger often is, with unhealthy results. The title—a game the narrator plays to test office chairs, ranking them on the three criteria—adds a layer of structure and some comedic action, but never truly integrates with the larger narrative.

With a great cast and insightful writing, Comfort, Spin, Travel has much to offer, and while the seats at the Meraki Arts Bar might not pass the comfort test, this show will both take you for a spin, and send you on a journey. 

By Chad Armstrong

Comfort, Spin, Travel plays at Meraki Arts Bar, Sydney from 24 Feb – 11 Mar, 2023. Click here for tickets and more information.

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