The award-winning comedian weaves a fantastical tale about giants and trans identity
This is a review of the Griffin Theatre season of Giantess. It's now returning to Sydney as part of Sydney Fringe.
For a show called Giantess, Cassie Workman’s new one-woman show is remarkably and charmingly small-scale. She stands alone onstage with a keyboard and a projector screen for company. She’s not comfortable with crowds, she confides. Her ideal audience size is one or two people who are really into what she’s doing – so could we please decide which of us will stay and then leave?
This musing, deeply-felt comedy storytelling show is dotted with tiny jewels of jokes just like this one, but in concept, Giantess is much bigger – and better – than the sum of its jokes.
The second in a double-bill at Griffin Theatre’s Batch Festival, alongside Omar Musa’s Since Ali Died, this show is the quieter and more intimate of the two. Workman scores her story with a keyboard; her fingers coax wistful wisps from the keys as she begins what she calls “a charming postmodern fable” about a giantess and a troll.
But the work is an allegory, a self-effacing, wrenching one about Workman’s own experience with her trans identity, and how that has intersected with her family, her sense of self, and her relationship with the world around her. Workman is an award-winning comic and her delivery, half patter and half self-effacing apologia, builds a diffident yarn that beats with a steadfast, generous heart.
It stammers along in parts, but soars in others. Sweet illustrations help the piece to progress, acting – much like the music – as our guide through the moments where we can’t rely on laughter alone.
Giantess is a crucial part of a festival of new and inventive work that’s built on the concept of exploration and discovery – it invites audiences chart new water and hear new voices. Workman’s voice is strong and her show is devastating, uplifting, and compelling. You may discover something new about yourself, or at least about the art you like, in the process of seeing it.