Christine Howey performs one-person show in CPT’s “Exact Change”


11351162_10153097608253127_3715749126404932685_nChristine Howey would have been relatively unnoticeable if it weren’t for the spotlights.

“I am a generic woman!” she said excitedly, standing on the Helen Theater stage on June 25.

This was a climactic moment of Exact Change, a self-written play about Howey’s life as a transgender woman, put on through Cleveland Public Theatre. Alone, Howey explored snippets of growing up, transitioning and re-defining relationships onstage.

Hopping between multiple roles (sometimes for only seconds at a time), Howey masterfully embodied each character without a single hesitation or costume change. Each “Lesson from the Enforcer,” or scenes narrated by Howey’s NYC-accented villain character, interrupted her life story. Howey even took on the roles of her daughter and ex-wife at times, usually to praise them for their acceptance and love.

Oftentimes, the writing was poetic; sometimes it was just poetry itself. Exact Change was developed originally from some of Howey’s self-written poems. This included the poem called “IWTBAG,” the abbreviation for “I want to be a girl.”

Exact Change started out funny, got depressing, and ended on a hopeful note. What began as a joke about peeing as a three-week-old infant eventually transformed into a montage of other moments from the play. Before this ending, Howey confidently removed her wig for a brief scene about phrenology, and then put it back on.

Until then, it hadn’t been apparent that she had been wearing one. Howey looked completely comfortable in her own skin, unlike the many pictures of as Richard Howey, which flashed on a screen onstage. In those pictures, Richard looked glum, spacey and depressed; nothing like Christine standing before the audience.

Exact Change reminded the audience of how important happiness is, whether that comes in the form of expression, love or flower potholders. It’s about being yourself, regardless of who that person happens to be.

Exact Change will be performed two more times today (June 27) only. The play also won a spot in the New York International Fringe Festival, and will be performed there at the end of August.