Pros: Words and movement are soaked in poetry.
Cons: The symbolic nature of this work might not appeal to some audiences.
Some performances more than others have the ability to strike a chord on us, beyond the simple meaning of words and action. Definition of Man had this effect on me and, as a spectator, I felt a stronger non-verbal connection between the play and my inner self.
Introduced into a post-apocalyptic world where only a man and a woman are left to survive in a dry wasteland, I found XX (Nikki Muller) and XY (Jason Rosario) slowly drifting apart – their relationship a subdued residue of a former love. Representing the archetypal male and female, their irreconcilable differences seem to have caused the near extinction of humankind, as they struggle to find themselves on the same page.
Their co-existence is the reflection of a society where interpersonal communication is filtered by technology and people are gradually losing their ability to express feelings face-to-face. I find myself thinking of the current divorce rate and the tendency to replace, rather than fix, whatever appears to be broken. So close to each other and yet isolated inside their unfulfilled intimate needs, XX and XY are left alone in a world devoid of alternatives and are, therefore, compelled to try and find some sort of balance to grant survival to their species. She’s longing for intimacy, whereas he’s after ownership.
Discussing migration, cultural identity, gender discrepancies and the meaning of language, the strong symbolism of this work relies on the points of contact between opposites. Exploring the stereotypical expectations that society attaches to gender, the man is terrified, whilst the woman feels empowered.
The conflict generated by the spoken word clashes with the use of Russian Counterbalancing – a physical discipline based on reciprocal trust. They despise each other, whilst their bodies are entangled in gravity-defying figures that depend on mutual support. Their sensual execution is seamless, with each look and each stroke being perfectly choreographed.
Chris Thomas’s originally written score contributes to the powerful synergy of this piece, together with an evocative lighting design which enhances the barren appearance of the landscape. Like a modern Adam and Eve in an anti-paradise, XX and XY are wearing dusty rags, on a stage lined with cardboard sheets.
This is an emblematic theatrical experience to which audiences are called to connect in more ways than just the rational interpretation of its resounding philosophical quotes. A multi-sensorial journey towards the extreme boundaries of human nature, which might induce different spectators to feel raptured or repulsed.
Created by: Jason Rosario and Nikki Muller
Written by: Nikki Muller
Directed by: JJ Mayes and Tavi Stutz
Staging by: Tavi Stutz
Original Score by: Chris Thomas
Produced by: Nikki Muller and Jason Rosario
Booking Information: This show has now completed its run