Folk singer Grace Petrie steps out from behind the guitar and lays her soul bare in her first hour of stand-up in Butch Ado About Nothing a show that will make you laugh, make you think and may even make you well up.
Petrie has felt ‘other’ from an early age. Whether it was her attraction to girls before she even reached double figures or the reactions to having short hair in a world where ‘girliness’ is highly sought after, the musician struggled to find her place in the world with no butch role models to look up to.
Petrie recounts experiences with family members of partners and strangers who were determined to belittle her value based on her appearance. At times she’s able to poke fun at their actions but you recognise how hard-fought self-acceptance has been. She may have been called ‘Sir’ every day of her adult life, and most recently ‘they/them’ by well-meaning or misinformed people. But she’s always been a ‘she’, even if she doesn’t fit into the outdated societal idea of what a woman is ‘meant’ to look like.
The show tackles big subjects – transphobia (the audience giving comedy boos to a certain children’s author), the concept of ‘lesbian erasure’, and trying to hold onto your identity in a world where labels change on a seemingly daily basis. Petrie cites Hannah Gadsby in helping her find a kindred spirit in the performing world and there’s a definite comparison to be made between the two. Petrie weaves a great story and her performance is powerfully understated. She commands your attention not with theatrics, but with her humour and heart.
If you’re expecting an hour of one-liners and cheap jokes, this isn’t for you. And if you’re a fan of Petrie’s music, don’t expect her to bring out the guitar. Because music changes the way Petrie is perceived by people, even the ones who come at her with an initial hatred. And she needs you to see her just as she is.