ED FRINGE: Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky: Man and Woman – Assembly, Studio Four, Edinburgh

Reviewer: Simon Topping

By: Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky

Reviewer: Simon Topping

This satire on gender politics and the theatre’s approach to stories addressing gender balance has its audience enthralled and laughing throughout.

Jake is the theatrical voice of his generation and Marcia is an actress who happens to be available for a role in his play. What Jake has noticed is that women don’t get to tell their stories on stage so, in response, he has written the ultimate feminist piece, an important statement about women, told by the greatest authority; a man.

From here the duo workshop the play and are keen to show off their brilliance, performing the roles of “man” and “woman”, a story of heterosexual love from birth to mid life.

This play, within the play, is fabulously biting and garners plenty of laughter in the room. “Man” is stupefyingly arrogant and self centred, while “woman” bends over backwards to please her man, negating herself at every turn.

The play within the play sees Jake and Marcia at loggerheads. Jake just wants Marcia to stick to the script and undermines her constantly, while Marcia wants us all to see the importance of her work. Neither character is sympathetic but both are played with great gusto and are very good caricatures of earnest narcissists.

As the piece continues Jake breaks for a fractious Q and A session and Marcia proceeds to a full on breakdown. Will the play reach a satisfactory conclusion for Jake or is it back to the drawing board?

Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky are very good comedy performers. Belsky is a natural clown and especially enthrals the crowd with her comedy antics as a toddler on stage. Cornell delights with his Neanderthal portrayal of “man” and is an equal foil to Belsky’s physical comedy.

Man and women is a thought provoking and funny show, cleverly scripted and well performed. The crowd laugh throughout and are gripped to see how the denouement unfolds.

Runs at Assembly Studio Four until august 28th 2022

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