Review of “Charm”: A Play about Being Transgender and Authentic

by Paul L. Grace-Neal

Oxon Hill, MD–She was a refined woman who wanted others to think she was raised that way.  Truth is… her father put her out on the streets of Chicago when she was only 19. She hopped from john to john for shelter.  I can only imagine everything else she did to make it—  but she did.

Out of her rising from past struggles to literally survive, Momma took compassion upon “her children” and tried her damndest to offer them Charm, love, and hope.  She taught Trans* teens that they were valuable, smart, and capable of leaving their sordid pasts behind and be successful contributors to society.  Although her methods were antiquated, teaching the stereotypical male and female gender lessons, she was sincere.  She sincerely loved each child as her own.  They were her babies and she was their momma. Momma Darlenna was her name.

Respecting gender preferences is core to anyone of Trans* identity. Not everyone looks “passable” and this play delved deeper into recognizing that just as you can’t judge a book by its cover or a wrapped gift by its size, you cannot judge a Trans* person by their outer appearance.  These children had to fight for being who they were.  When families turned their backs on them, they were forced to do anything else they could just to survive when many things they did could have killed them.  Desperation drove some to do the unthinkable.  They sold their bodies, joined gangs to belong, and struggled in relationships to survive.  As I watched their harsh realities unfold, I sat in disbelief as if I was watching these events in real life.

In the end, Momma Darlenna’s babies realized that her heart was in the right place.  She pushed them to see their potential and to avoid experiencing her tumultuous past.  In the end, I guess the charm of it all is that we can be who we are authentically despite who others say that we should be.  The most charming attribute of all is to love oneself and strive to do what is best for oneself.  Now that, children, is CHARMing!

Editor-in-Chief’s note:  According to Theatre Mania, MCC Theatre will stage a production of Charm and will be holding casting calls.

Thank you Paul, for bringing this play to the attention of Arise 2.0.  Kiki


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