QUESTION MARKS OVER PLAY DEALING WITH MENíS ISSUES
NZ Fringe Festival 2010|
What's in a Man?
Written by Josh Samuels with Merrilee McCoy & Woody Tuhiwai
Directed by Merrilee McCoy
Breaking the 5th Wall Productions
at BATS, Wellington
From 4 Feb 2010 to 12 Feb 2010
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 9 Feb 2010
originally published in The Dominion Post
What's in a Man? is the sort of show that might well be performed as a non-threatening introductory warm-up session at a seminar on men's issues. It's light and amusing but deadly serious in its intent. It's designed to make you feel you're not alone and problems can be discussed in the open.
However, as a play on a public stage it seems contrived, simplistic and preachy. It also made me wonder what on earth happened to the Sensitive New Age Guy of a few years back. It would appear from the scenes depicted in What's in a Man? that men have learnt nothing about dealing with their emotional lives since the 80s when SNAGs first appeared.
There are four story lines which seem to be separate but slowly we come to realize that they are all linked in some way going back through generations of male emotional log jams. Each story line reveals a different aspect of a male problem whether it is sexual inadequacy, a fear of expressing emotions, and the sacrifice of a happy family life for a career, which is, of course, successful financially but not emotionally.
This last problem is shown when The Minister of Male Affairs (Wiremu Tuhiwai) treats his male secretary (Josh Samuels) with contempt, fails to attend his son's sporting events, and makes outrageous public comments on male suicides.
Both Samuels and Tuhiwai have attractive, winning personalities on stage and they neatly perform the troubled men and one young boy who appear in the typical case studies but the play is hampered by the fact that a hiatus follows each scene when costumes are changed. The best scenes are the comic ones and made me wish I had seen their last year's Comedy Festival offering: What is Comedy?
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Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);