“Frank and unflinching, In Isolation discusses love, sex, sexuality and gender in a way that both challenges and affirms.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
In Isolation is a collection of four dramatic monologues created by writer, filmmaker and university lecturer, Rachel Dax. Each of the monologues included in this short book are narrated by four British octogenarians from very different backgrounds who each experience the LGBTQIA+ community in different ways.
As the title of the book suggests, Rachel Dax’s collection of long monologues partially reference to the Covid-19 pandemic, the lockdown and the social distancing advice given to prevent the spread. In the first monologue, Dream O’ New York’, Dax comically writes, “Believe it or not, ma generation didnae need Corona Virus to remind us to wash our hands.” She also refers to other 21st century issues including that of the environmental crisis and recycling. In reference to re-filling glass bottles at a brewery, one woman says, “none o’ this plastic shite that’s causing all the problems now.”
Recounting their life experiences, what each of these women have in common is their age and the notions regarding the LGBTQIA+ experience which come from that generation. Each of the characters created by Rachel Dax has to fight the prejudices, fear, stigma and internalized homophobia/transphobia which was ingrained in them during their youth.
Rachel Dax explores the emotions, actions and thoughts of a variety of different women from working class to upper class. She narrates a variety of experiences within and allied to the LGBTQIA+ community as well as delving into women’s relationships with men and experiences within wider society.
These monologues are intended to be performed, filmed and recorded as podcasts in a post-Covid environment so they are best read aloud if possible. “Royalties from this book will be used to turn these monologues into both films and podcasts.” The author also uses dialect and some strong accents to create dialogue that is believable as a true person and, therefore, they will be even better when they can be watched/listened to in the true voices rather than read from a page. However, even reading them from a book, you can already get a great sense of each person.
Dax perfectly captures that hilarious, unfiltered truthfulness of elderly women, particularly in the first monologue ‘Dream O’ New York’. Plus, she creates layered characters, not all of whom are immediately likeable but all of whom have interesting stories to tell and redeemable characteristics.
Rachel Dax’s In Isolation explores a variety of issue relating to the LGBTQIA+ experience as well as the wider human experience including; love, gender identity, sex, sexuality, and equality. She also delves into some difficult issues such as women’s liberation, trans rights, biphobia, domestic abuse, sexual assault/harrassment and the #MeToo Movement, and the AIDs crisis of the 1980s.
Each story draws the reader in, hooking you until the very end when you finally learn the outcome of each woman’s life. From their childhoods to their eighth decade on earth, each monologue showcases how far LGBTQIA+ rights and acceptance has come, highlights how much stigma people from previous generations have had to shed to accept themselves and ‘come out’. It also challenging how much further we still have to go to ensure everyone is equal, especially in countries where LGBTQIA+ people are unable to come out safely and live as their true selves.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 15th November 2020