DramaNorth West

Boys – HOME, Manchester

Devised by The Pappy Show

Reviewer: Katherine Kirwin

What makes up a man; his heritage, his parents, his relationships, his strength, his heart, his abs, his endurance, his mind? Boys is a fun, cheeky, timely, physical, theatrical exploration of manhood performed by a talented cast of young men of colour.

The show could be seen as a messy mix of different devising games, yet this mess and rawness made it feel alive and electric; like anything could happen next. The ensemble has a seemingly genuine connection and complicity, with moments where they seek to push, challenge, prod and provoke each other whilst always including the audience.

Pappy Show credit themselves as an ensemble who train in physical theatre and use exercise and training to create work. This strong physical basis is evident at several points with a continuous tie to their overarching theme, for example, an impressive choreographed peacocking routine with all the cast leaping, jumping, flexing around their chairs then quickly afterward using the chairs to hide from the audience’s gaze as they have to change their outfits. This sequence highlighted the current obsession with male physicality through the gym culture, Love Island expectations, and yet these same men may have their own body image issues away from the Instagram selfie.

The moments where the whole ensemble perform choreographed routines are slick and impressive, the raw energy of these male performers shining through, as they display male aggression in a haka-esque routine. Equally, they all come together to compete in clowning-esque challenges for the audience’s pleasure; who can perform the most graceful leap? Who can hold the longest handstand? and the genuine exertion and passion involved in this male competition made the audience howl with laughter.

As a counter-balance there were beautiful moments of tenderness, particularly the arresting refrain of a love story performed through a duet mixing contemporary dance and acrobalance as they navigate their way through tentative flirting to full-blown relationship and break-up. It is delicate and powerful, aggressive and peaceful, it is as difficult to define as love itself.

Boys isn’t perfect, mainly they don’t need to introduce the different themes of the sections, but mankind isn’t perfect; we’re messy, we’re energetic, we’re tired, we’re lovers, fighters and creators.

Reviewed on 8 July 2018 | Image: Contributed

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The North West team is under the editorship of John Roberts. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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