NO I.D. first premiered at Theatre Peckham as part of Peckham Fringe 2022; the show then ran at this year’s VAULT Festival, and won the VAULT Award for show of the week. It’s now transferred to the Royal Court Theatre for a short run – it’s always great to see the progression of new work from Fringe festivals to larger stages.

Credit: Marc Brenner

Tatenda Shamiso’s play centres around his own experience as a black transgender immigrant living in the UK. Set in Tatenda’s home, Claudio Casino’s set consists of a brown sofa, a lamp, and a keyboard, the space is cluttered with paperwork and files. The show opens with Tatenda trying to navigate an automated phone service – he is trying to change his legal name and gender – although it soon is explained that there isn’t a hotline that can do this for you, it’s much more complex and time-consuming. Tatenda then tells his story to us, the audience, and Andrew the telephone operator (when he finally gets passed the automated service).

Shamiso’s performance is remarkable, from a vacant stare whilst on hold to the hotline, to tap dancing to Anything Goes, to being wrapped up in paperwork, and with some (minor) audience interaction scattered throughout – he provides a multifaceted performance with many layers to peel back. Shamiso is an endearing and engaging storyteller, instantly forming a connection with his audience, which allows him to cause us to both laugh at his silliness and shed a tear at the profundity of the piece. 

Music is intertwined within the performance, with beautiful arrangements by Gabriel Dedji, and tender, smooth vocals displayed by Shamiso, the lyrics of these songs are honest and gut-wrenchingly beautiful.

Credit: Marc Brenner

Sean Ting-Hsuan Wang’s direction means the hour-long piece progresses with momentum which does not cease. There are some stunning visual moments and equally some stark, almost jarring ones – as we see Tatenda’s gender dysphoria, something which is incredibly complex, reduced to mere paperwork. 

Shamiso shines a light on part of the trans experience which is not spoken about very often, understandably so, as this is a community which are made to feel as though they have to explain, prove, and defend their existence to others. There are so many people within society that need to see this show. 

NO I.D. is fresh, honest, and even heartbreaking at times, but ultimately leaves you feeling hopeful and liberated. The play requires a quiet moment at the end, for you to fully absorb and digest what you have just witnessed, but it’s one of the most beautiful and impactful shows I’ve seen this year.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

NO I.D. is at the Royal Court until 6th May – tickets and info here.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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