Finding Bobbi: BRWC Raindance Review. By Matt Keay.
Returning to something after a lull is always a challenge. Not because there is a doubt in any previous skill or ability, rather a fear that the time that has elapsed will impinge on or inform negatively your experience; to the point that you might not even be the person that you were before.
For Bobbi Charlton, this is truer than many could even imagine, but her time away might’ve made her even stronger, and even more capable of succeeding.
‘Finding Bobbi’ documents the return to the stage of Bobbi Charlton, a transgender actor playing Aunt Eller in a LGBTQ+ production of ‘Oklahoma!’ at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Bobbi’s performance comes after a twenty-three year absence from theatre acting, following her transition in 2010, at the age of 53.
Bobbi is a charming, fiery, instantly likeable woman, who relays the most personal and intimate aspects of her gender dysmorphia with aplomb, maintaining an honesty and openness throughout. Interspersed with Bobbi’s recollections is backstage footage of the production rehearsal, and talking heads with friends, family, and the director of the the piece.
The film benefits from a surfeit of home videos, photos, and local area footage of Bobbi throughout her life and career, which serves to further illumine her experiences, beyond her own account. Director Scot Morison manages the pacing through use of these materials, coupled with reconstruction of events and music choices which elevate this short doc to something a little more than just a TV docutainment. However, at only 66 minutes, it is a shame that we cannot spend just a little more time with Bobbi, as it is a joy to share her joie de vivre.
‘Finding Bobbi’ is an interesting slice of life, a brief peek into the experience of a strong, brave woman, which manages to cover a significant amount of time without feeling rushed or harried. It is transparent, funny, and eye-opening account of a woman blossoming in the autumn of her life.
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