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She is King is a small show with big ideas. It delivers them quietly, in the soft voice of actress Laryssa Husiak who conceived, created, and performs in the title role as tennis legend Billie Jean King.
The show, produced by Incubator Arts for their Other Forces 2014 festival, is a simple but innovative re-enactment of archival video footage of three television interviews King gave at crucial moments in her career — at the height of her fame in 1973, and immediately before and after she was outed as a lesbian in 1981. Each separate interview takes place with King center stage, volleying questions from different interviewers.
Husiak is a wonder in the role; quiet and powerful, revealing the different layers of King. In the first interview, she is firm and optimistic, fielding sexist questions from a chauvinistic interviewer with aplomb. During the second interview with talk show host Toni Tennille, she is more relaxed. Husiak manages to be both shy and forthcoming when fielding Tennille’s questions, and there is an air of schoolgirl playfulness — possibly flirtatiousness — in King’s responses, especially as Tennille’s intrusive questions are hidden behind the huge smile of (the excellent) Louisa Bradshaw.