FROM THE FIRST extrapolation of ‘Gorgeous!’ in the mouth of Celeste, the whole of the American Midwest is evoked, with all its texture and brashness, enthusiasm and disappointment, history and perspectives. Played by Kim Tatum, episode 17 of The End of the Line takes the complexity of sexuality and runs with it across generations and matrices.
It’s a tale of motherhood that is less about the biological equipment and more about the idea of giving someone else the permission and momentum to shine with their own worth. It’s about unconditional love. But it’s also about sibling love and the juddering honesty of sibling vision – and permission from your brother, to be happy. And having dealt with your own need to be happy, how do you reach out to others? This is where Erika comes into Celeste’s picture.
This tale of being born one way and living another is handled with elegant subtlety. It’s about motherhood across the gender lines, as it is about the delicate scariness of debuting as a beautiful young woman in teetering high heels, when all the world thinks you are something else. Above all, it offers a trajectory of what it means to not fit into society a few decades ago, as opposed to fitting in, in contemporary times, where cisgender is questioned and everything else embraced.
Tatum is enormous in her performance. You want to be hugged by her realness from the outset – and in fact, you are, by the way in which she articulates and skirts around difficult things as she touches them head on. This episode is a beautiful, complex achievement.
- Celeste is a story written and directed by Mark Heywood. With production support by Lynne McConway and editing by Pocket Blockbuster, it features casting by Sydney Aldridge and music by Daisy Chute and Cerian of the Heard Collective; it is performed by Kim Tatum and it is the 17th in a series of podcasts produced by Ink Jockey collectively called The End of the Line.