Review: Two Man Show
Incendiary, joyous feminist thinking.
You need to see this.
Two Man Show is an exploration of gender, masculinity, femininity and the patriarchy, attempting to put into speech, music and dance something which cannot be put into words- because the words were built by men.
This is not to say that the show blames men; the structure, consisting of very staged monologues, a naturalistic dialogue between two brothers, physical theatre and impassioned, seemingly improvised speeches, all performed by Tigerlily Hutchinson and Sara Hazemi, means that every angle is explored. There is something for everyone to cling onto: girls who want to be ManWomen, girls who would like nothing less, men who want to be more vulnerable, people who just don’t know.
It’s hard to describe the show in the way you usually would in a review: it defies categorisation in the same way the women onstage do. There is music, ably performed by a stunning girl band (the music is stunningly beautiful, especially the last song); there is physical theatre; there is spoken word. Yet it is far greater than the sum of its already ground-breaking parts (when is the last time you saw an all-female backing band, especially at the ADC?). Over the course of an hour, we go from laughing at the world’s most awkward Cards Against Humanity game (beautifully directed by Chloe Lansley, who brings out the nail-biting humour and heartbreaking pathos of two brothers who cannot understand each-other or their pain, try as they might) to watching two women scream about how they don’t know how to be women.
Both performers are incandescently good – and they have to be, because otherwise the show would fall utterly flat. Hutchinson shines as the sullen, undemonstrative John, trying his best to still be a man as his fathers’ illness pushes him into a more “womanly” role: desperate not to talk, to let things be real. Then she turns on a dime: stage-Tiger, bawling and stomping and looking out at the audience with a fervour last seen on medieval saints, is a completely different beast, and a delight to watch. “Fuck listening!” she shouts, and I’d put money on every woman in the audience giving an answering wince. We are taught so completely that to listen and comfort is our greatest virtue that to have a woman tell us that “I don’t understand your pain, and I don’t want to!” seemed like the most revolutionary thing in the world.
Yet there is room for other ways of being a woman, too. Sara Hazemi is another joy: utterly unlikeable as selfish, arrogant, uncaring Dan, vitriol dripping from every word as he talks about his girlfriend, yet heartbreakingly vulnerable when she becomes stage-Sara, sitting in the spotlight and telling us how she doesn’t always want a big room. How she likes to be taken care of. How she’s sorry for being sorry all the time.
It is not a perfect show: the lighting can be messy and slightly out of sync, the band too loud at times, the transitions between scenes a little jarring. But it doesn’t matter. How they do it is not our concern: what matters is the message of this weird, joyous, sequinned show. The message that there is no right way to be a man or a woman, but that the way we are told to be those things is broken. “Fuck listening,” we’re told, and they’re right. But I could have carried on listening for another three hours.
Header by Matilda Schwefel, photos Helena Fox.