In April 2016, Kikki Temple had a burger thrown at them at Flinders Street Station. The person who threw it called out a transphobic slur. There were over 100 people around at the time, and no one did anything to help. Written by Travis Alabanza - whom this actually happened to - Burgerz uses the humble burger to discuss gender identity and violence against trans people through an interactive cooking show and confessional storytelling.
Kikki Temple dazzles in this production. She establishes brilliant rapport with the audience and her interactions with us are sincere. Engaging in conversation with us means there is a level of uncertainty and spontaneity with what could happen, but Temple remains in control and her razor-sharp responses and reactions never stop coming. She's gentle with us at the beginning and gradually the anger, hurt and fear begin to come through and the implicit responsibility we must all take for the burger assault become clearer.
She invites a white male to come on stage and help her cook a burger, and as they do this, she speaks to us about what it means to be a trans woman colour. The ingredients of the burger, including the buns, patty, spices and vegetables, are used to bring up numerous issues impacting trans people but also an opportunity for Temple to unpack what happened to her and how this was not an isolated incident against her for being a trans woman of colour. At times, Temple speaks to her volunteer chef about these issues and hear his thoughts, at one point asking him the difficult question of "what does it feels like to be a man?"
Kitan Petkovski's direction is controlled but free. He knows how to ensure that the story doesn't become lost in itself with the numerous elements involved, while allowing for Temple's sassy personality to come through. The entrance by Temple at the beginning of the show will be one of the best I have seen in a theatre production. With a minimal set, which basically consists of a car and a cooking bench, Petkovski ensures that Temple is not drowned by the large space and that she ends up owning the entire room. Katie Sfetkidis' lighting design supports this by changing the ambience of the stage where sometimes the lights are dimmed to focus on Temple to being fully lit or lit in various colours.
While there is possibly a bit too much style over substance in the script, there is still enough bite in this burger to leave a strong aftertaste. Temple's performance and words will sit with you and simmer as you realise it is no longer acceptable to be an innocent bystander when such attacks happen around us.
Click here to read our interview with actor, Kikki Temple.
Venue: Theatre Works, 14 Acland St, St. Kilda
Season: until 18 February | Tues - Sat 7:30pm
Duration: 60 minutes
Tickets: $35 Full | $30 Concession
Bookings: Theatre Works
Image credit: Daniel Rabin
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