Trans comedy 'Hir' at Stray Cat Theatre is very now

Thursday, May 4, 2017
Arizona Republic



Prophecy is always easier to spot in hindsight, but it’s hard to watch “Hir,” Taylor Mac’s audacious 2014 dramedy about the (trans)gender wars, without seeing a metaphor for America divided in the Trump era.

“Hir,” which closes the 2016-17 season for Stray Cat Theatre at the Tempe Center for the Arts, is a ruefully funny challenge to gender orthodoxies — including those still emerging on the cultural left. It’s also a wrenching portrait of a dysfunctional family and an artful allegory of the decline of a patriarchal order that, as it turns out, isn’t quite dead yet.

There’s a lot to juggle here, which director Ron May and his cast do with brisk pacing and a lot of heart. Dresbach, a longtime luminary on the local scene, combines expert comic timing with dramatic depth to produce one of her most memorable performances. And Williams, in a Stray Cat Theatre debut, delivers a natural-feeling turn that embraces contradictions.

By the time it’s all over, “Hir” is much more than the “dark comedy” it is sometimes labeled as. Instead, it takes on the weight of allegory in a devastating denouement that’s emblematic of the stark divide between those who dream of restoring the past and those who would prefer to bury it.

We’re not sure where we are, and we don’t know where we’re heading. But we know it’s someplace we’ve never been before.