When he was a teenager in 1930s Berlin, Lothar Berfelde's aunt told him: 'Nature has played a joke on us; I should have been a man, you should have been born a girl.'
For most of his life, Lothar lived as a woman, wearing women's clothes and adopting the name Charlotte von Mahlsdorf. The intriguing aspects of the story, told in I Am My Own Wife (Pearse Centre until February 6) **** lie with Von Mahlsdorf's version of his own life. He became a celebrated figure in Berlin - but did he really bludgeon his brutal Nazi father to death? And how did he manage to survive as a transvestite in the repressive worlds of Nazi Germany and communist East Berlin?
Von Mahlsdorf filled his huge old mansion with antique phonographs, pictures, clocks, books and furniture. The place became a national museum. It was also a meeting ground for all kinds of illegal sexual activity. But when the Stasi secret police files were released in 1991, they threw suspicion on Von Mahlsdorf's behaviour towards those around him.
The unlikely nature of the story intrigued gay American writer Doug Wright, who interviewed Von Mahlsdorf on a number of occasions, saw him as a heroic figure and wrote this play based on the interviews. …