Written By: Scott Gunnion
Date: October 25 2017
Location: Everyman Theatre, Liverpool
Man To Man is a one-woman-show that unites gender bending with Nazi Germany, complete with inexplicable and deeply misplaced Scottish accents. Seriously. That might sound like a brilliantly bonkers combination, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
This is the tale of a woman who adopts her husband’s identity after he dies in order to step into his shoes in the workplace and survive Nazi Germany. But the plot doesn’t really stand up to scrutiny; as if nobody in her husband’s workplace is going to notice his newly-feminine curves and edges, the lack of Adam’s apple or five o’clock shadow.
Even Maggie Bain, protagonist Ella’s, best Groundskeeper Willie impression still manages sounds like an unmistakably female Glaswegian trade unionist or a female character from Rab C. Nesbitt, and that’s not to detract from the talent of the one-woman in question.
Maggie Bain puts in an excellently charismatic performance, complete with the previously referred to unexplained Scottish accent. At times, the impact of the performance was really powerful. You come away from it with a sense of having delved deep into the psyche of a mind walking the plank between sanity and insanity.
But the play fails to address the stresses and hardships faced by people who identity as transgender; the protagonist never does identify as transgender, though for all intents and purposes she might as well be. There is a real sense of claustrophobic and isolation that permeates throughout this production courtesy of the minimalist set comprised of single bed and armchair.
Apparently, the play is to translate to New York; that seems a rather undeserved milestone to have accomplished with this dry and lacklustre production. This is a production that hinges heart and soul on the heavy shoulders of the sole performer.
Bain’s is an excellent performance that resuscitates and breathes life into a stale and uninspiring script, a script which says nothing new and has nothing new or interesting to say in respect of an already widely dramatized era in history. It elevates the play from below average to just plain average.
I was bored senseless throughout. Unless you were an enemy of mine, I wouldn’t recommend it.
Overall Rating: 3/10 – Flawed