REVIEW: TWO MAN SHOW (Soho Theatre) ★★★★
The title of the event Two Man Show is slightly misleading as there are no men in the show and three women, however that is a mere bagatelle next to the real content of the show.
RashDash was formed at the University of Hull in 2009. It comprises two very talented young women, Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland who function as creators of the show, Artistic Directors and performers.
Additionally, Two Man Show has the superb Becky Wilkie who wrote and played the music and joined in the singing and also, held her own on stage.
RashDash have won a number of awards most notably from the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and have co-produced, We Want You to Watch, with The National Theatre.
The show comprises song, dance, humour, ear splittingly loud pulsating music and drama in fairly equal proportions. While no one would claim that the cast were exceptional dancers or world class singers, Helen and Abbi have a truly exceptional warmth, humour and intelligence. The songs are sung with full hearted charm and the dancing varies from balletic to passionate.
Helen and Abbi play the parts of two men, John and Dan, for almost all of the show. This might be considered somewhat bonkers (or an alternative way of looking at it might be intellectually challenging) as, for most of the time, Helen and Abbi are completely and unashamedly naked, and not unsurprisingly gynaecologically speaking, have female rather than male genitalia. At this point I should mention that the lovely Becky Wilkie also bravely “got her kit off” presumably to show solidarity with her colleagues. However, judging by the amused look on her face, she enjoyed it.
There is no attempt to make the women look or sound masculine. All of the gender realignment is by way of aggressive tones of voice and expression of masculine attitudes. One might consider the nakedness an expression of intellectual honesty, although it might also have been. an expression of the authors’ senses of mischief and fun.
Various storylines are brought in, only to be abandoned after a minute or two once the normally clichéd, male attitude has been established and run it’s course. There is no attempt at any kind of debate, or even offer a balanced argument. That is not what this play is about. This play is about feelings and is thereby creating it’s own unique genre. It specifically looks at woman’s perception of masculinity. The play is largely a series of events rather than a chronologically running single story. Helen and Abbi have allowed them selves the luxury of moving the story on when their interest in the plot wains.
The play is fast paced and well written with a remarkably honest passion. It is never boring and in fact tends to sometimes leaves you still considering one premise while they have already moved the action on. The audience has a preponderance of young artistic people, as it should be, but at no point did this old codger feel out of place.
The Soho Theatre is located close to Soho Square in the heart of London’s West End. The building houses three separate performance spaces as well as a very nice ground floor pizza restaurant and bar, which is open to passers by and theatre audiences alike. Generally the theatre presents new works of drama, fringe comedy and cabaret. The feeling is friendly, fun and the service is excellent even when the place is crowded.
Two Man Show will be touring around England until 15th October and is well worth catching up with.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
Photo: Richard Davenport