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Two Man Show - Review - Soho Theatre

Two Man Show, Soho Theatre – Review

Pros: An innovative exploration of patriarchy and masculinity in modern day society. Exceptional talent and stamina on show from all three performers.

Cons: A bit LOUD. The percussion and sound effects are painfully high-volume, which is distracting at times.

Pros: An innovative exploration of patriarchy and masculinity in modern day society. Exceptional talent and stamina on show from all three performers. Cons: A bit LOUD. The percussion and sound effects are painfully high-volume, which is distracting at times. RashDash Theatre’s Two Man Show is in its second run at the Soho Theatre, returning after selling out its first in Autumn 2016. The promotional synopsis of the show is vague but appealing, as it centres on two hot topics in our cultural sphere: masculinity and patriarchy. Without giving too much away, the show fuses dance, music and drama seamlessly,…

Summary

Rating

Excellent

A vibrant, varied production. Worth seeing for its open approach to difficult subject matter alone.

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RashDash Theatre’s Two Man Show is in its second run at the Soho Theatre, returning after selling out its first in Autumn 2016. The promotional synopsis of the show is vague but appealing, as it centres on two hot topics in our cultural sphere: masculinity and patriarchy. Without giving too much away, the show fuses dance, music and drama seamlessly, exploring the relationship between our bodies and the societal pressures they are under. The ‘Two Man’ part of the title refers to Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland, who attack the show with passion and high energy.

The highlights of the show, for me, were the dance scenes. Every element of the production is incredibly well thought out, but the movement-focused moments pack the biggest punches. A couple are quite quiet and intimate. Goalen and Greenland often perform the choreography almost as one entity; the two are hyper-aware of each other’s space. When they move together, they showcase trust and perfect stage chemistry. There are some interpretive dances where the message of the show is made blatant. For example, an artist (Greenland) placing their model (Goalen) into statuesque representations of the body through the years, beginning with serene, mythical stances and moving to the sexualised magazine poses of the twenty-first century. This contrasts with more subtle routines that focus on the performers’ bodies alone, in which nudity is often used in an essential and beautiful way. Katherine Williams’s lighting design deserves high praise, especially in the dances. I’ve been to the Soho Theatre’s upstairs venue on several occasions and it can feel boxed in. The lights aided a feeling of intimacy between the performers and the audience.

The show is interspersed with the story of two brothers dealing with their father’s long-term illness. Dan and John are portrayed by the two women, with no added costumes or props, extremely tactfully. The representation of men is purposefully ham-handed: ‘manly men’ fighting for power. The narrative provides a flip-side account of the gender debate that the show deals with. This is particularly important as it ensures the production stays inclusive, avoiding being sensitive only to the female side of things.

The show is bookended by musical pieces. For the most part, the songs are very moving. Goalen and Greenland are supported by a third performer, Becky Wilkie, who provides musical accompaniment throughout. At times the percussion and layers of sound are too much, particularly in the punk-inspired pieces, and the volume is turned up painfully high. One of the notions that the show promises to explore is how to discuss patriarchal society when words won’t suffice, and it successfully does so, but the ear drum-bursting volume is not required to enforce this idea. However, Wilkie is highly talented, and the more harmonious, folk-like melodies are ethereal and emotional.

Two Man Show brings a vibrant subject to life in a way I have not seen before. Discussing feminism, masculinity and patriarchy is tricky, and it seems that debates often fail to gain momentum because the focus tends to be on how to discuss the concepts tactfully. RashDash Theatre demonstrate how to engage with difficult ideas with innovation, and most importantly, unapologetically.

Created and Performed by: Helen Goalen, Abbi Greenland and Becky Wilkie
Producer: RashDash Theatre
Box Office: 020 7478 0100
Booking Link: www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/two-man-show-2017
Booking Until: Saturday 4 March

About Bryony Taylor

Bryony is an English Literature MA student at Birkbeck and long term theatre addict. Playing angel #14 in her primary school production of 'What a Very Grumpy Sheep' paved the way for a happy long term relationship with the theatre. When not watching plays or manically writing essays way before the deadline (a day is long enough, yes?), she can be found reading, foraging for her next meal, or in the pub. She's waiting for someone to write a play that encompasses all of these hobbies. Bryony would be willing to reprise her role as Angel #14, as it was a groundbreaking performance.