‘No Love Songs For Lady Basses’ Is Charming Trans Theatre

‘No Love Songs For Lady Basses’ Is Charming Trans Theatre
Image: L-R: Aisling Bermingham, Sheanna Parker Russon, Lillian Hearne. Credit: Jamie James

If you attend the premiere season this weekend of No Love Songs For Lady Basses, a new production from the Trans Theatre Collective, there’s little doubt you’ll walk away feeling lucky to have seen this remarkably charming production. 

Written by and starring Sheanna Parker Russon and directed by Cassie Hamilton, No Love Songs For Lady Basses is a meta mix of standup, song and social commentary that left me thoroughly impressed. 

Sheanna has always loved singing, but a problem arises: she’s a bass, meaning she’s destined to be typecast when attending auditions. Despite her vocal range, she yearns to sing a love song that’s her own – will she ever get it? We follow Sheanna’s journey to her perfect love song. 

No Love Songs For Lady Basses is a deeply personal and authentic work, owing to Russon’s highly vulnerable performance and script. The interplay between the two aspects of Sheanna, the character and the person, is a large part of why the show works so well as the line between the two often blurs completely. 

That sense of vulnerability is assisted by the highly intimate Old Fitz Theatre venue. Sheanna is often talking directly to the audience and usually stands at the very front of the stage, creating a tangible connection between her and the audience. 

As a result, Cassie Hamilton’s minimalist hand as director is felt at all times; only 50 minutes long, No Love Songs For Lady Basses feels watertight and makes optimal use of its space and acoustics. 

Fantastic musical direction from Lillian Hearne – also performed on the night with real skill by Hearne with Aisling Bermingham – provides fantastic backing for Russon’s singing and accentuate key moments of comedy and drama. 

No Love Songs For Lady Basses
One of Sheanna’s many spats with the director (portrayed by a sock puppet). Credit: Jamie James

A deeply personal, funny show

The brilliant mix of comedy and music keeps the show’s pace snappy, and Sheanna’s consistent stream of jokes kept the audience chuckling the whole night, especially with the help of a director character (played by a sock puppet on Sheanna’s right hand) whose consistent awfulness provided many laughs.

Moreover, many of these jokes deftly incorporate social criticism into the narrative, overtly criticising the way trans people are treated and seen in the arts world. Sheanna’s inner turmoil increases while commentary becomes more cutting, eventually culminating in a stellar moment that blurred the lines between performance and reality in a fascinating way.

Although not afraid to delve into the realities of being trans in everyday life and the entertainment industry, No Love Songs For Lady Basses nonetheless finds hope as it comes to a heartfelt conclusion; it’s difficult not to smile when experiencing the show’s beautiful ending.  

A staggeringly original and thoroughly trans mix of comedy, music and storytelling, No Love Songs For Lady Basses is a fantastic piece of theatre that’s both hilarious and intimate, and a must-see for theatre fans in Sydney. 

No Love Songs For Lady Basses plays the Old Fitz Theatre until Sunday June 16th. Find tickets here.

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