The first peculiar thing I realise when seeing a show entitled Two Man Show is that it’s not going to be performed by two men at all but by three women. If anyone read my last review you may start to think I’m developing a bee in my bonnet about shows with misleading titles. In this case I believe it, as with most things in this show, to be quite deliberate. What better way to make an early point about masculine domination of language up until this point in our history.
I’ve returned to HOME Manchester for my second helping of shows from the Orbit season comprising of some of the most successful and interesting shows from the Edinburgh Fringe. This one by RashDash is undoubtedly one of the most interesting shows you will see in a long time and yet despite this I wasn’t convinced at the start of the show by lead performers Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland taking us through a fast paced history of the development of the human race and of the development of patriarchy as a social construct. I was beginning to find disagreements with their narrative and worry that this was entirely the wrong show for me to be seeing. As the show goes on however, it becomes clear that this is entirely the point they wish to make about using words to convey thoughts and ideas on patriarchy.
To use their own words “We want to talk about masculinity and patriarchy but the words that exist aren’t good enough. So there’s music and dance too.” It’s when the talking stops and the music and dancing begin that this show really comes to life with some incredible physical movement sequences led by a sound score by Becky Wilkie. It’s worth noting at this point that much of the movement/dance pieces are performed by Goalen and Greenland pretty much naked although at one point even the musician Wilkie joined in the fun for one piece. I presume for the reason of solidarity.
What is crucial for me I think to point out is that that, despite the flippancy of my last comments, the nudity within this performance was in no uncertain terms not merely for simple gratuitous reasons to shock or confront but allowed us as an audience to view the performers physical routines in the same way and on the same terms we would view a similar thing performed by a guy, where we would not think for a second about them being topless. The nature of these movement pieces evokes at some points ideas of tribal dances with its deep bass sounds and at other times they become ballet pieces. In others amongst the audience countless ideas more personal to themselves will have been called to mind.
What we see in this performance piece is firstly a provocation around the ideas of patriarchy which cleverly runs through to very salient and interesting thoughts on the ideas of language within feminism. I confess I wasn’t able to pick up on every point being made and I don’t think it was expected of us as an audience. There was so much to pick out and comprehend at such a fast pace that every audience member will have taken their own meanings from what they saw onstage. It’s perfect theatre for mulling over in the bar afterwards with friends and leaving you thinking for a long while after seeing it.
Reviewer: Karl Barnsley
Reviewed: 11th October 2016
North West End Rating: ★★★★