Writer: Felix Legge
Director: Anna Fox
Reviewer: Maryam Philpott
This review is only for men. It’s nice isn’t it to have a bit of space for yourselves again, for the last two years theatre has made you care about women’s stories and tales about all kinds of equality, and two years is a really long time to be a good person. But it’s ok because this show is all about you, just like it was in the good old days of 2017, it’s a story about a man, led by a male actor in which you get your own currency that’s just for men. Phew!
Guy White is a good man, he knows it, he tells himself and his girlfriend Polly all the time. He cares about good causes, he supports minority representation and wants to help more women into the tech industry, which is why his new cryptocurrency “Woke” will have an incentivised programme that rewards decency. But after a fight with Polly a drunken PR stunt accidentally launches Mancoin, becoming an overnight sensation. Suddenly the figurehead of an international campaign for men’s rights, is Guy really the man he thinks he is?
Felix Legge’s new play which transfers to the Vault Festival is a cleverly constructed piece of social satire that makes a mockery of the self-aware enlightened man. “I’m one of the good guys, remember that” Guy proclaims at the start but, as a lot of women already know, anyone who has to say they are a good guy almost certainly isn’t and underneath Guy is the opposite of everything he professes to be – selfish, privileged and eager to claim victimisation.
Legge, alongside director Anna Fox, have devised a quite cunning approach to presenting the hero so that he undoes himself. His girlfriend and other characters are played by three female actors who share the same roles between them, purposefully making Polly in particular generically female from Guy’s perspective. Whenever she speaks, he recites her lines back to the audience simultaneously, drowning out her own voice with his interpretation and at times talking to the audience about something else entirely while she fades into the background.
Mancoin then doubles the effect when the audience realises that they are primarily looking at Guy rather than the women on stage – Shazia Nicholls, Suzie Preece and Gabby Wong. He is the character we have been introduced to, so even though the words in his mouth don’t belong to him, we have been drawn into his version of them without thinking. Guy’s true self becomes increasingly evident as the cryptocurrency goes from strength to strength, so by the end he is even speaking for other men he believes inferior to himself. There is a tiny chink of hope as Polly’s words are finally spoken by her alone so Nicholls, Preece and Wong can finally step into the light and be heard.
Hubert Burton delivers a great comic performance as the entrepreneur desperate to be seen as a good person but entirely lacking in the self-awareness necessary to genuinely be one. Yet he is an engaging and likeable narrator, you want him to succeed, yet Burton is toying with us and as he slowly gives voice to Guy’s inner self, even suggesting that like the EU we’ll miss the patriarchy when it’s gone, it becomes clear how thin the veneer of woke masculinity really is.
“It is impossible to be a man these days, the world is against us” Guy proclaims, and it really is a time of terrible suffering for you all, so thank goodness for Mancoin. This review really is just for men, you need Mancoin to show you the way, so assert your white male privilege and get a ticket for this while you can. It will be a revelation.
Runs until: 10 February 2019 | Image: Contributed