Presented by student company Planetarium Productions and written by student Hannah Greenstreet, Cashiered tells the true story of American Civil war veteran and transgender man, Albert Cashier, looking back at his fight to be recognised as both a man and soldier in a time when trans-rights were unheard of.
The play tells a vastly important and powerful story, with both the plot and the often discreetly gendered language of the script raising questions about history in regard to gender and identity, which are still relevant in today’s society.
The lead role of Albert Cashier himself is by no means an easy one to take on however Thea Keller does so with great success capturing his spirit perfectly and showing a great deal of emotional maturity and diversity in his portrayal. The cast in general is strong however the standout performance comes from Lara Marks in both the role of the bigoted and loathsome Sister Bateman and that of army-bully Fred Carter. Marks’ ability to switch between the two roles in relatively short space of time is incredible, having found myself almost forgetting it was the same person playing the two parts, testament to her skill as an actress.
Although by no means making the play unenjoyable, it is clear Cashiered was initially written for radio. The dialogue has a tendency to state the obvious and on occasions lacks subtlety, thus, alongside the largely static direction, taking something away from the experience of live theatre. This having been said, when there is more action on stage, it is done so incredibly effectively. The use of silhouettes behind a white curtain draws emphasis to the brutal and unjust treatment of Cashier, and does give one hope that with further work, this could be as powerful as a piece of theatre as Albert’s story is in itself.
I would most certainly say that Cashiered is well worth a watch. It tells an interesting story and serves and important purpose, addressing a vital piece of history and bringing to light important issues which often go undiscussed. Although not yet perfect, the piece has a great deal of potential with both cast and creative team showing great promise.