Performance reviews: Big Dyke Energy and T4T: A Transgender Showcase, Melbourne Fringe Festival

An unforgettable stand-up comedy and powerful showcase with trans and non-binary cast.
Big Dyke Energy. Image is woman in orange and blue dress with furry blue and white coat, orange shades on the end of her nose and mouth agape in a shocked expression.

Big Dyke Energy

Big Dyke Energy was the work of 30-something-year-old comic Hannah Malarski and her partner Ash Goodison, and a sell-out show that deserved all the success. The show took a deep sapphic dive into queer identity, growing up in Tasmania (through a mainlander retrospective gaze), the pressure of being a Millennial and catfishing an ex.

Big Dyke Energy was the type of show that comes back in waves of memory, days after seeing it – a rare thing for a stand-up comedy to achieve, let alone a show seen crammed between so many others this Fringe Festival (six in one week alone for this reviewer).

In what felt like a weird fever dream left over from Friday night, a highlight of Big Dyke Energy was the high-octane dance number to Kylie Minogue‘s ‘Padam Padam’. The number marked the show in all its glory and, of course, in a show titled Big Dyke Energy, the music of Miss Minogue was not at all out of place.

But relishing these music choices was just scratching the surface – this show was about so much more. Aside from its whip-smart comedy, Big Dyke Energy had so much strength and power presented in the long tradition of oral history. 

Here, this history relates to when, in 1988, 120 LGBTQIA+ protestors were arrested in Hobart after a Gay Law Reform Group (TGLRG) stall at Salamanca Markets was continually shut down. Throughout the performance, audiences were plunged into darkness, while excerpts from interviews and news stories of the time were played back. 

As a narrative link that connected the present to the past, the rest of the performance jumped back and forth in a hilarious montage that was still easy enough to follow. 

Great comedy, which Big Dyke Energy was, has the ability to balance the dark against the light – bringing audiences in for a great big hug and then slamming them with the weight of its truth.


Big Dyke Energy
Created and performed by Hannah Malarski in collaboration with Ash Goodison.

Big Dyke Energy was performed from 9-14 October at Club Voltaire.

T4T: A Transgender Showcase

Ask any of us trans and non-binary folk these days, and most of us will flat out tell you that just being our authentic selves moving through the world – just the same as those outside of our community – is exhausting. An exhaustion born from the constant correction of people using our wrong pronouns, the sense of danger many of us fear (particularly in Melbourne amid the growing threat of Neo Nazis and the Alt Right) let alone the dysphoria/waves of euphoria that accompany many of our collective stories.

So, close your eyes and imagine all of this just floating away – such was the power of T4T: A Transgender Showcase and the concept behind it. Remove all cis-gendered performers and audiences from a room and let us just be, with 200 others just like us. As the title suggest (T4T or Trans for Trans), this show was performed by an entirely trans and non-binary cast for an entirely trans and non-binary audience. 

Each of the acts sharply threw the audience with their many different tonal and narrative shifts. So that, in its specificity but also its randomness, in 90 minutes the show went some way toward highlighting the beauty of trans bodies, and the challenges and triumphs of both the individual and collective experience. 

There was something for everyone here, from comedy to cabaret, to drag and even death-defying stunts. It was held together by one of Australia’s brightest comedic talents Anna Piper Scott, who shone as T4T’s staunch host and narrator. 

So much is spoken about community accesses and the power of art to bring people together, but so often this is just box ticking for programming and grant opportunities. Not here. This was so much more than just your typical variety show; in its set-up T4T provided and held space for the power of not so much storytelling but sharing. 

Read: Performance reviews: How to Shave and It’s Like a Circle, Melbourne Fringe Festival

Having been invited to T4T as perhaps one of the few trans non-binary reviewers in Melbourne working across this year’s Fringe Festival, this writer wishes to thank Olly Lawrence, one of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming producers for the invitation. As our voices and representation continue to grow on stages and in festivals; one can only hope that representation within the media will also continue to grow. 

Staunch and unapologetically trans, T4T: A Transgender Showcase created the type of space that so many desperately need.


T4T: A Transgender Showcase
Presented by: Heartfelt Havoc Productions
Hosted by: Anna Piper Scott
Produced by: Olly Lawrence
Performed by: Bella De Jac, Justin Sider, Rosie Rai and Georgie George, Eddie Pattison, Hugo Grrrl and Themme Fatale

T4T: A Transgender Showcase was performed on 14 October at Festival Hub: Trades Hall – ETU Ballroom.

This review is published under the Amplify Collective, an initiative supported by The Walkley Foundation and made possible through funding from the Meta Australian News Fund.

Jessi Ryan (they/them) has been creating performance and exhibitions for the past 20 years, both locally, nationally and abroad- in this time collaborating with a huge number of artists from a broad cross section of cultural backgrounds. As a journalist they have written for and been published by some of Australia’s leading arts and news editorial across the last 10 years-and was recognised as a finalist for Globe Community Media Award in 2021. Ryan has also taken photos for a number of print and online publications.