My Queer Diary, the directorial debut of A.E. Quinn, co-written by Quinn and Hayleigh McGowan, ran from the 11th to the 15th of February at UCD’s DramSoc Theatre. A character driven production; it tells the story of Blake, portrayed by Sam Brophy, and Amelia, portrayed by Saoirse Carey, as they deal with Blake’s experience coming out and living openly as a transgender man in modern Ireland.
While at face value it appears to be just another story of trans suffering, once it begins you see that it is much more. Due to the personal experience of the creative team and cast, it does not feel exploitative in the way many stories which centre themselves around the suffering of LGBTQ+ people do. It is clear that accuracy was important to the production team, and that educating the audience on an experience they may not be familiar with was a key intention of the show. While this does lead to the dialogue feeling clunky and expositional at points, it does not negate the impact of the performance overall. Carey in particular had the audience in tears at multiple stages throughout, with both actors delivering their dialogue with passion and emotion that could move the hardest of hearts.
“Educating the audience on an experience they may not be familiar with was a key intention of the show”
Having already been heaped with praise from noted Dublin-based LGBTQ+ activists Noah Halpin and Tonie Walsh, I won’t waste time outlining it’s political positives, like how it is the second instance in the history of Irish theatre of a trans actor playing a trans character. I’ll only briefly mention how it highlights the everpressing issue of transphobic and homophobic violence which heteronormative news publications seem to ignore, and how it addresses the innumerable failings of the transgender healthcare system in Ireland. The show does all of these things, with a deft hand, and a heaping of small, comedic moments that lend to it still feeling like a play, and not like a lecture. Brophy’s delivery was key in this, coming across as quite genuinely sarcastic and witty throughout the piece, making his way through intricate quips with ease.
Despite some technical setbacks, such as a large portion of their tech being accidentally deleted the morning of their first performance, the production ran relatively smoothly. There were a few missteps, easily attributed to opening day jitters, that surely would have been evened out throughout its run. However, one issue that cannot be set aside is that of Amelia’s second to last monologue, in which she speaks to God about the cruelty of the world we live in; wherein a character seems to be both alive and dead for the duration. Schrödinger’s transgender, if you will. It unfortunately did distract from the monologue’s overall point, which is devastating as it is one of the emotional high-points of the play. Despite this, it did still spark many a tear in the audience.
My Queer Diary is a play which could be dissected for hours, as Quinn themself is a final year drama student, likely lending to the theoretical complexity of the piece. However, this play is not just for those who wish to stretch their critical theory muscles. It is a genuinely moving and impactful piece that is very much worth a watch if it runs again at a later stage. Overall, a skilled debut for Quinn, and a well produced week for UCD DramSoc.