Melbourne Fringe: Gender Spanner

Jessica McKerlie doesn’t like labels. She doesn’t like them when society gives them to us. She doesn’t like it when we give it to themselves. She doesn’t even like the word labels.

Gender Spanner. Melbourne Fringe


When you enter the Cave Theatre at Scratch Warehouse, a new performance space in North Melbourne, Jess gives everyone a post-it note, a description based on her first impressions of each audience member. She sums you up with one word. You could be sexual or depressed or a diligent flosser. But you are just one thing for the night.

McKerlie tells stories about running away to join the circus, about travelling through Europe, about falling in love even when her visa is about to run out. And she sings songs on her ukelele about gender identity and feminism. Gender Spanner is thoughtful, hilarious and bracingly intimate. McKerlie talks about how lucky she is to be able to do a show about gender identity, when so many people are the world are still persecuted based on gender and sexual identity.

And we’re lucky to be able to see McKerlie dance, sing, strip, spin plates and tell us to ignore the labels other people pin on us. And stop worrying so much about giraffes, ourselves.

Keith Gow

Keith Gow is an internationally-produced playwright, best known for Who Are You Supposed to Be (Edinburgh Fringe 2013, Melbourne Fringe 2014, Adelaide Fringe 2015). He is also co-writer of the upcoming supernatural drama series Sonnigsburg which will air on Channel 31. He blogs about his writing, film and theatre at

Keith Gow

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