Reviewed by: Binge Fringe
Review by Eilidh McKenzie | 20 March 2024

You’ve probably heard of the hugely successful children’s fantasy author who has become a figure of contention in recent times for her controversial position on transgender rights. What you’ve not heard is said author being interviewed by Matilda Quinn – trans woman and fellow fantasy author. Set in a not-so-distant future with Anna Piper Scott, trans woman and Aussie comedian, as JK, and actor Sasha Chong playing the idealistic interviewer, An Evening with JK is a confrontational piece of theatre that examines the position of TERFS (Transgender Exclusionary Radical Feminists) and the economic impossibility of separating art from artist.

Biological males in female toilets, girls made to feel unsafe, vulnerable children tricked into identity changes, and the radical feminists who fiercely defend the female identity and female spaces… Or biological determinism, faux-concern, the anti-feminist perpetuation of gender stereotypes and the erasure of a marginalised group of people? JK and Matilda sit with opposite views of Trans rights, yet they do share some common ground.

Quinn opens her interview by asking JK about her decision to write a series of detective novels under a male pseudonym. JK extols on the freedom she felt writing in a male voice; inhabiting a male space. Quinn points out that she felt a similar freedom when she was finally seen as a woman by society. JK is disgusted by the manipulation of her words and the comparison of artistic expression to the Trans experience. Thus begins the conversation between two intelligent, impassioned people determined to convince the other person and the audience of their beliefs.

The play hinges on two important questions: Is JK happier now she has found a place in the TERF community? What is the ending she envisions for society and Trans people? Her answer to the first question reveals how her personal life shaped her political beliefs. Domestic violence, single motherhood, and feeling un-feminine in her own body. Her answer to the second question reveals the economic power she has to fund anti-trans campaigns as long as movie studios and publishers keep buying the stories of her fictional world.

The interview format means that JK is never vilified; rather a provocative conversation takes place. When Anna Piper Scott and Sasha Chong break character to discuss the play’s ending, they emphasise the power of the audience to create an ending too. The performances we, as consumers, invest our money and time in shape the world.

An Evening with JK is a daring, clever and metafictional satire that looks to humanise a modern villain whilst equally also highlighting her blind-spots, biases, and billion-dollar wealth.

Recommended Drink: A dram of whisky – the themes of the play linger long after consumption, much like the taste of whisky on the palate.

Catch An Evening with JK till March 17th. Tickets can be purchased through the Adelaide Fringe Box Office.