Sitting between performance art and cabaret, Mark Wilson’s one-man-woman-man piece is contentious, provocative and arresting.
Presented as part of MKA’s Hyprtxt Festival, Unsex Me looks at Lady Macbeth’s famed monologue (“unsex me here”) and through a queer lens that investigates notions of identity, reproduction and feminisation.
Wilson’s performance re-humanises Lady Macbeth who, no longer seen as a symbol of her husband’s desire for power incarnate, becomes a very real character suffering from the loss of a child. Wilson examines debates surrounding fertility, legacy, life and death through a persona made-mannish by her inability to produce a living child and an heir; losing her function according to the archetypes that no longer resonate, but continue to characterise our age. Unsex Me forces us to rethink and reframe these archetypes, which, like Lady Macbeth, have fallen into the abstracted realm of sign, symbol and metaphor. Instead, Unsex Me reminds us that these issues are real; they have a direct and emotional reality in the lives of others.
With some draped red curtains and an immense tartan dress, Wilson’s performance it at once beautiful and grotesque. From his comic portrayal as a vacuous actress to an outrageously funny (and mildly disturbing) sex scene involving a microphone, Wilson masters every extreme oscillation of the piece, from horror to joy; an unrelenting roller coaster of emotional turmoil, life, death and fucking. Wilson’s presence is electrifying and all inclusive, a balance between hard-hitting, gut wrenching madness and the anarchic chaos of comedy, which ultimately aids the highly complex, interpretive and sophisticated enquiries that the work raises.
What sets Unsex Me apart, what makes it truly powerful, or powerfully true, is the subtext of sensitivity and delicacy. The very real and raw emotions that lie beneath the characters Wilson represents, the evident compassion of intellect and thought, the risk and engagement make this piece complex, inclusive and dense.