Sunday, 14 May 2017

Review Manwatching


Manwatching
by Anonymous

Female Intuition
https://royalcourttheatre.com/

At this very moment, somewhere in California 60 research scientists are working on how to read your mind. OK, to be more accurate, Facebook is working on technology to type messages direct from the brain to what they term "a conversation partner" rather than to go phishing for random thoughts.

But wouldn't it be so much easier for the companies involved if we all thought within a recognized grid? A variation of 'If the mountain will not come to Mohammed, then Mohammed will come to the mountain'?

And, while we are open to new experiences, by the end of Manwatching, this thought, amongst others, entered our mind in our irritation with what seems like a clumsy gimmick with which we are supposed to alternatively identify or applaud as insightful. 

TLT and her like-minded automative Tonto do not suggest that the deliberate plan is to run roughshod over our own thought processes but it seems one logical conclusion to commercial pressures.

Manwatching the play, not to be confused with the 1980s' book club bestseller by Desmond Morris which we remember as a similarly rather bemusing read, is apparently by an anonymous female playwright and dwells on her sexual evolution from a kid to whereever she is now.

We're instructed not to give much away - there's a definite authoritarian streak to Anonymous which makes one wonder why she ever allowed the text to be published in the first place. Is it really all a weak satire? We can't tell, damnit, and we're meant to be critics!

It's a simple set up. A man, a printer, a script, a lighting operator (lighting designer Jamie Spirito) directed by Lucy Morrison.

Anon instructs that the text should be sight read by a man - in our case it was a personable young comedian called Liam Williams with a deceptively diffident, self-deprecating manner.

After a brief introduction, the man launches into the script which uneasily mixes the female writer's description of sexual desire with alleged experiences and fantasies.

It seems from the introduction to the play text (handed over only at the end of the evening) we're not the only ones to wonder if it's all a bluff written by a coven of men.

To be fair, the monologue does touch upon some serious issues but we found the approach conventional and lacklustre.  It's ok if you're prepared as an audience member to smile gamely and look serious when appropriate, which is also more or less what Williams also did.

We hasten to correct this - we obviously can't read his mind and he did prove to be an adept sight reader after a hesitant start. We guess also that the title Manwatching is double-edged as it's mostly about watching the comedian tackle the task and watching him react to the words he's given.

If you enjoy seeing an unprepared stand up comedian up close and personal embracing a female persona, this may be your bag. But for us, it's a red/amber light.

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