Horse McDonald fascinated the audience with her terrific voice in her Gilded Balloon performance of Careful. As soon as she entered the stage and intoned the first words, the audience were stunned, eager to hear more. Beginning with the tale of when she sang her hitat the Albert Hall, she unveiled her personal story. It was interesting and important, and also powerfully delivered.
Careful is a word with a lot of symbolic meaning for Horse. She had to be careful in her life. Careful, when she was growing up as child who wanted to wear masculine clothes. Careful, when she had to hide to be a lesbian in public in the 50s, while being constantly bullied and risking her life. Careful, when she was robbed and sexually harassed. Careful, while being in love, when her partner rejected her, afraid of judgements.
This show also represents her passion for singing. Singing was her strength when she felt defeated as teenager. It's her dream and her career. It's an achievement that makes her parents and her proud. It's something that hits the audience on a deep level, with the level of emotion she conveys.
Her story is not only incredibly poignant but also tightly linked with LGBT history. She went through several "corrective therapy" sessions since she asked for a gender reassignment and it was denied to her. From psychiatrists to psychologists and other therapists, everyone broke her trust, exposing and making her more vulnerable than she was already.
Her story is also about rights and equality. She celebrated the love for her partner with a civil partnership and she was present when the Scottish parliament approved gay marriage. In this mixture of personal stories, history and rights we cannot be anything else but enchanted by this powerful human being. She fought back and she expressed who she was. There were many tears in the eyes of the audience at the end.
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Horse McDonald in Carefull is at 19.30 in the Gilded Balloon, The Museum (Aug 11-14, 16-29).