The Man

Wed 5th – Sun 30th August 2015

reviews

Freya Routledge

at 08:51 on 16th Aug 2015

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Our location is Hyde Park’s Speaker’s Corner and as The Man jaunts into The Assembly Room’s Studio 2 ballroom in a shiny leather suit (with tailcoat), bowler hat and face painted like a smiler, it is uncertain what this discussion or debate might entail. However, before launching into his monologue, he compels any closed minded people to leave. Everyone stays put. What follows is a frequently cringe-worthy diatribe against the technological modern age, saved only by its potential to be funny and covering everything from Apple to AIDS to the Royals to reality TV.

It is probably fair to say that The Man’s jokes appeal to a darker sense of humour but even my own dark sensibilities saw him coming up short on several occasions. Discourses of this kind can be hilarious, witty and might actually make you think differently about the world if executed correctly. This was meagrely demonstrated in The Man’s performance, with a few perceptive comments such as an observation on the modern obsession with Apple and the iPhone, citing the “wanker 4g” as the consumerist scourge and addiction of the nation. In these rare moments of comic joy we were shown what he was really capable of which only worsened the inappropriate and unsubtle jokes that were dispersed around them such as his reference to a concentration camp style hair-cut and thoughts for a drama sympathising with paedophiles called ‘Pope’.

The hour long piece therefore carried a niggling sense that we were waiting for something bigger to happen; it didn’t seem like it was going anywhere. This was not helped by The Man’s repeated mistakes which he always admitted to, sometimes managing to scrape back the audience’s wavering confidence which was progressively sinking. The nail in the coffin was when he dropped his smiler baton as he attempted to twirl it through his fingers, a moment which was almost unbearably awkward and which caused me to lose faith in him completely.

In his final speech before finishing, The Man suggests that sometimes “it’s good to be the devil” as if his lumpy tirade against all the lamentable trappings of our global dystopia has helped him achieve some kind of catharsis. However it held little of the subtlety that is required for topical, comical commentary, leaving a bad taste in my mouth.

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Genevieve Cox

at 11:47 on 16th Aug 2015

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Imagine, if you will, a single stage illuminated with a spotlight with a black back-drop and the sign indicting Hyde Park NE London SW7, a mystic scent that one might discover in voodoo tent mingled with similarly mysterious magic, inductive of enchantment and the unknown...

This setting heightened my anticipation for a show featuring an unnamed MAN, an unknown actor, a mystery to unravel. A radio playback of a solo, disembodied voice introduced the scene of Speaker’s Corner, home to infamous words of Churchill, Ghandi, Orwell, Marx, and encouraged us to wait for our next speaker, our MAN.

This build-up continued upon the entry of the ‘mystery’ man: dressed in black, long leather jacket, painted white face blacked-out eyes, bowler hat covering his baldness and an expressionless face that hosted only hints of emotion as a great joker-style grin was painted from cheek-to-cheek. My excitement now truly aroused, I couldn’t wait for the arrival of the promised comedy to ensue.

Yet I was heavily disappointed. Despite eloquent introduction, elaborate setup and high anticipations and expectations, the comic performance failed to enchant me as it focused rather on the disenchantment of life, zooming through the lens of harsh, cruel and crude truths. A tone of corruption took centre stage in this comedian’s monologue as Fairtrade coffee mingled with ‘Slave-labour sugar’; the non-sensical names of ‘Good Friday’ and ‘Easter Monday’ were highly questioned; religion was linked, potentially offensively, to technology. Moreover, these jokes gradually worsened as the performance went on, dragging out previous humour to the point of its loss of wit, unnecessarily repetitive and prolonged.

The comedy was, however, well-written, well-structured with clear and logical connections between a variety of intriguing topics that offered wide explanations to everyday enigmas. It effectively questioned the reality of our world – as well as the reality of the famous 1st world, the poverty-stricken 3rd world and a fantastical realm of 2nd world that existed more realistically through our current dependence upon screens, games, materialistic attempts at escapes from the “walking shadows” of our own empty lives. The essence of comedy was, I believe in my presumption of it’s overarching purpose, to question reality through comic farce, through disguise that distanced and annihilated one from reality, enabling justified creation of its logic. And in this, the show did succeed – especially for a few members who evidently enjoyed this approach.

Yet overall, despite its intelligence, its wit, and its well-rehearsed, well-enacted links, this production ultimately failed for me, appealing to a niche target-audience instead. It suited a darker, more sadistic humour, therefore leaving me to conclude it as overly-dark and harsh: not my relaxing, comic cup-of-tea.

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