It’s 10.30pm on Tuesday night. I have just finished your recent email. You are now on the way to recovery. You are here now as you should have been and will be until the day you die. So whilst I struggle slowly onward and upward, you are already there.
Úna McKevitt’s The Big Deal tells the tale a friendship forged by the extraordinary physical and emotional journeys taken by two women.
It tells the story of Cathy and Deborah, born as males (Patrick and Sean) that grew up, got married and lived half their lives before admitting they had known all along that they were born in the wrong bodies.
The play follows the friends as they undergo gender reassignment surgery, drawing on past memories, conversations and letters exchanged between them. The stories are based on the true experiences and the roles of Cathy and Deborah are performed powerfully by Úna Kavanagh and Shani Williams.
The details of the surgery and the aftermath are graphic, not for the faint-hearted yet totally enthralling, so much so that the audience can almost feel the pain too. These tales are mixed with recollections of the characters’ childhood, and pop music interludes.
The Big Deal is a potent portrayal of lives rarely heard of in Irish society and told with sincerity, frankness and charm. It isn’t guilty of sympathising too much with the characters either, holding on the gritty reality. Deborah tells the audience “as Sean, as a husband and as a father, I was a total bastard.”
Una McKevitt tackles the topic perfectly. She conveys the heartfelt struggle of the characters; we feel the pain of judgment, inequality and unrequited love. We see the sacrifices made in order for these two women to feel like people they were supposed to be.
This is no run-of-the-mill tale of love or tragedy; real lives, real stories, told on stage in the most fantastic way.
It is indeed a big deal.
Audience members at the opening night of The Big Deal