Turning trauma into laughter

Wednesday, September 25, 1991

A Bit of a Post Script
Written and performed by Sue-Anne Post
Directed by Sue Ingleton
Universal Theatre, Fitzroy, till September 27
Reviewed by Bronwen Beechey

The great US writer James Baldwin was fond of joking that, as a black homosexual, he was just about as oppressed as anyone could get. Sue-Anne Post can challenge Baldwin's claim. She grew up in the only Mormon family in a small country town, her father was killed in the Granville train disaster, and she was a victim of sexual abuse by her stepfather. After leaving home she became in quick succession a lesbian, an atheist and an alcoholic.

Post not only survived these traumatic experiences, but went on to turn them into comedy. Her one-woman show A Bit of A Postscript was one of the hits of the Melbourne Comedy Festival this year and is now back for a season at the Melbourne Fringe Festival. She has also performed in Sydney, being probably the first comic to perform for both the Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras and the World Council of Churches in the same week!

On a bare stage with only an armchair and a lamp, Post has her audience spellbound. With gently understated humour, she tells of her bizarre Mormon upbringing, her gradual realisation that she was different ("I didn't want to get married — you'd understand why if you saw Mormon boys") and her eventual acceptance of her sexuality. She finally got up the courage to tell her mother, to be told: "It's just a phase you're going through".

She sarcastically comments: "As if I woke up one morning and thought 'I know, I'll become a lesbian — alienate my friends and family, possibly lose my job, maybe get beaten up on the street — what a great idea!'"

When Post told her mother about her stepfather's abuse, she was, like many other incest survivors, not believed. She left home and began the painful process of coming to terms with what had happened. She began drinking heavily and at one stage made what she describes as "one of the silliest attempts at suicide of all time" — she tried to slash her wrists with a butter knife. Eventually she recovered and was able to confront her stepfather about the abuse. Her description of this event is the highlight of the show.

A Bit of a Post Script is in turn hilarious, moving and inspiring. One is left with a feeling of anger at a society which tolerates and encourages religious bigotry, homophobia and sexual abuse, and of overwhelming admiration for a performer who is prepared to speak out against with such honesty, wit and courage.

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