Playhouse Presents: Mr Understood

Grayson Perry’s concept of a transvestite’s voyage of self-discovery, written and directed by Katie Handie, was another heartfelt story from the Playhouse Presents series.

Gary’s (Tom Brooke) transvestite weekend is marred by his self-conscious, which happens to take human form in Frank (Tommy McDonnell). Gary and Frank continuously bicker as to if or when Gary should be openly transgendered. Whilst resulting in numerous laughs their conflict reaches critical levels in a harrowing scene where Gary faces public prejudice. Throughout this Gary is also ridiculed by Frank, fueling his self-doubt. This traumatic experience, portrayed with intensity by the actors, gave Mr Understood a connection to its audience who could easily emote to Gary’s vulnerability.

The human angle comes into full effect as Gary bonds with more experienced transvestite Jim (Neil Dudgeon). Jim also has a self-conscious named Linda (Clarie Skinner). In another emotionally charged scene, Jim attempts personal conversation with Gary who isolates himself. Simultaneously their self-conscious counterparts discourage them by revealing their insecurities, making the audience see Gary and Jim as human beings struggling with their ridiculed identities. And this is Mr Understood‘s essence, presenting the characters with a relatability to ourselves.

Tom Brooke as Gary and Tommy McDonnell as Frank

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