An Evening With JK (review)

Anna Piper Scott - photo by Olly LawrenceA saying I’ve heard is “Open their mouths with laughter so you can force a grain of truth down.”

From the moment Sasha Chong steps onto the stage as transgender woman Matilda Quinn, that’s what happens. Queer Asian author Benjamin Law was “supposed” to be the chair of this author interview with JK — we later find out he pulled out because of how toxic JK and her views are. Quinn, the replacement chair, is best known for, well, nothing.

The timing of this show is perfect, coming only 5 days after Adelaide Writers Week wrapped for 2024. This piece of theatre follows the same format as most Writers Week sessions: a chair in conversation with an author for an hour.

And when transgender comedian Anna Piper Scott steps onto the stage as globally bestselling children’s author, JK, the laughs keep coming.

But the issues being discussed are serious. Will Quinn be able to get JK to answer the hard questions about the positions JK takes in her offensive Tweets (are we supposed to call them Xs now?)

This show was far more engaging and intelligent than I expected. Even though I went into the show knowing nothing about it, from the title it was obvious what issues it would tackle. I expected cheap, woke one-liners, but this was far more sophisticated.

It seems as if Scott was at one point a fan of the real JK (as opposed to the fictional one where any similarities to a real person are purely coincidental) and An Evening with JK is an honest exploration to understand how her hero could betray her faith with transphobic or at least Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) Tweets.

As the play reaches its climax, it shifts from humour to a serious look at where JK’s views will lead if unchecked and unchallenged. And at least in this fiction, unlike in real life, we can hear JK admit to the impact her views will have.

I have to admit to ignorance around transgender people and issues (despite having transgender and intersex friends over the years), and to having a fear of offending transgender people through saying something unintentionally insensitive.

This is a thought-provoking show for those who support transgender rights, but also those who are open-minded enough to have their views challenged. And isn’t being open-minded a virtue?

An Evening With JK
The Chapel at The Courtyard of Curiosities at the Migration Museum, 82 Kintore Avenue, Adelaide
Performance: Tuesday 12 March 2024
Season continues to 17 March 2024
Information and Bookings:

Image: Anna Piper Scott – photo by Olly Lawrence

Review: Daniel G. Taylor