Written and Performed by Christine Howey; Directed by Scott Plate
Produced by Cleveland Public Theater
Part of the 2015 New York International Fringe Festival
Off Off Broadway, Solo Show
Runs through 8.27.15
VENUE #16: The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre,115 MacDougal Street
by Katharine Nedder on 8.17.15
Christine Howey in Exact Change. Photo by Steve Wagner.
BOTTOM LINE: Gives an emotional, captivating and politically empowering voice to the transgender community.
Through fascinating anecdotes, flawless impressions, and a gift for storytelling, Christine Howey fearlessly shares her journey into womanhood. The play begins with the infancy of Richard (ironically nicknamed Dick), and travels chronologically through childhood, puberty, and early adulthood, leading to the full realization of Christine, the woman standing before the audience.
Howey is captivating—her poetic language, combined with the strength and conviction of her voice, makes the script extremely compelling. She takes on numerous characters so fully that her entire demeanor changes; though only one person, she possesses the power of an army. Whether she is playing her mother, an ex-wife, her mentor Dolly, or the negative voices in her head, each persona is distinct and original. Throughout the performance, Howey uses her commanding physicality to depict typical occurrences: childhood games, the act of going shopping, interactions with her parents, etc. Given the specific nature of her personal struggle, Howey's story proves relatable to people in all walks of life.
The production smartly employs projections to convey different stages of Christine’s life. Each section is titled appropriately and is accompanied by visual references that make these time jumps clear and propel the story forward, thus keeping the audience engaged.
Most notably, the grace and effectiveness with which Howey explores violence against the transgender community makes this show a standout. After guiding the audience through her personal journey, she draws attention to a specific act of violence. Howey ties this act to her experiences, bringing light to the unseen hate that still remains, and she calls the audience to action. Both inspiring and illuminating, Howey’s performance has the power to inspire change.
(Exact Change plays at VENUE #16: The Steve & Marie Sgouros Theatre,115 MacDougal Street, through August 27, 2015. Performances are Sun 8/16 at 4:30; Wed 8/19 at 9:15; Fri 8/21 at 8:45; Sun 8/23 at 9:30; and Thu 8/27 at 2:30. There is no late seating at FringeNYC. Tickets are $18 and are available at fringenyc.org. For more information visit exactchangetheplay.com.)