What's in a Man?

BATS Theatre, Wellington

04/02/2010 - 12/02/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

We all know that Wolverine, Colin ‘Pinetree’ Meads and Bob Saget are men!

But if we probed them deeper . . . past the adamantium skeleton, the black jersey and the Full House façade . . . what would we find?

what’s in a Man is NOT “The Penis Monologues”, but it is a fringe-tastic comedic, character-based romp through the real ‘man’ experience in all its nut-punching, swearing, macho, confused, silly glory!

Although initially terrified at the thought of looking at their own emotions and foibles to create this production, men: Josh Samuels and Woody Tuhiwai have embraced this manly challenge. “The crux of the show is that each man must confront his fear and his father – just like Luke Skywalker,” says writer and performer Josh Samuels.

So join us on this humorous two-person, rapid-fire sketchfest – deconstructing masculinity, stereotypes and asking the question: what’s in a man?

What’s in a Man?
Bats Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Season: February 4th-12th (no shows 6th-8th)
Time: 8pm
Tickets: $16 Full /$13 Concession & Groups /$10 Fringe Addict

To Book email book@bats.co.nz  or phone 04 802 4175

This two-person, rapid-fire sketchfest features Josh and Wiremu performing with Merrilee directing. 

Performed by Woody Tuhiwai & Josh Samuels
Sound by Carlos Espinoza
Lights by Brendon Hodgson


Clumsy men

Review by Lynn Freeman 13th Feb 2010

What’s in a Man? is the second show from the 5th Wall Productions and unfortunately it doesn’t represent a big step forward.

The territory is well trodden – what does it mean to be a man? The blurb talks about the actors facing their fears but it’s mainly the old stereotypes revisited once more, including some Brokeback Mountain references to sexuality. The structure is clumsy too, with a forced feeling audience warm up which morphs into a very loose ‘story’ around a father talking to his son.

Now Josh Samuels and Woody Tuhiwai clearly want to get people talking and thinking about men’s issues, which is great, but they need to push even harder and delve even deeper.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Question marks over play dealing with men’s issues

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 09th Feb 2010

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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Trite, contrived and unconvincing

Review by John Smythe 05th Feb 2010

When it comes to shows about what it is to be a man, Geraldine Brophy’s The Viagra Monologues, which played at Bats three years ago, is a hard act to follow (so to speak). Using it as a yardstick, What’s in a Man? fails to shape up. It even falls short of the standard the same team set with their first show together, What is Humour?, in last year’s Comedy Festival.

Performers Josh Samuels (also the lead writer) and Woody Tuhiwai are nice enough chaps, relaxed and engaging in their performing personae. The intro segment has all the hallmarks of setting up a comedy sketch show but what follows sinks onto a morass of deeply unsubtle drama.

Woody as a boy having bad dreams, so being told a bedtime story by a parent – which gets acted out in a series of interconnecting duologues – is exactly the same device as they used last year, which suggests a paucity of imagination rather than an evolving ‘house style’.

The interactions are between close mates Steve and Colin in the lead up to their abortive hunting trip; Eric Stone, the Minister of Men’s Affairs, and his secretary Robert; sexually dysfunctional Jerry and his un-named more clued-up mate (in an ‘I’m really thick’ t-shirt). They produce some quite amusing comedy sequences en route to revealing we’re seeing three generations of sons, all affected by the failure on the granddad to be true to himself.

It’s not a bad idea, per se. Tuhiwai proves very versatile in delineating different characters, moods and emotional states. Samuels brings the same persona and pacing to everything he does but gets by with an underlying comic sensibility that could work with stronger material.  

But over all the scenes and characterisations are two-dimensional, any momentum is constantly subverted by long pauses as both actors change behind a screen (not to mention the long pauses that unnecessarily punctuate much of the dialogue) … And it all ends up explaining itself in words of one syllable culled from a counselling manual.

Despite being universal truths, unadorned clichés are dramatically uninspiring, especially when used to explain the obvious, leaving us nothing to discover, grapple with or ponder. In short, far from fulfilling its stated promise to probe the vulnerable truths of manhood, What’s in a Man is trite, contrived and unconvincing.  
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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