There is a crisis in masculinity. Men can no longer be bearded, belching monsters, retreating to their man-caves at the merest whiff of emotion. Women are in charge now, and men now have to stop solving problems with their fists. They have talk to each other. They have to have feelings, damn it. This is the initial premise of Two Man Show – actually a three-woman piece. But, just as the title of the show misleads us as to the gender identities of the performers, the show itself tells us less about what it is to be a 21st century man, and more about what it is to be a woman.
Following a quick overview of how the patriarchy has ruined everything, we see women portrayed as goddesses, as muses, on pedestals, as voiceless figurines. We see women acting out the characters of two brothers, struggling to communicate about death and impending fatherhood, jaws and hearts hardened and set against each other.
Most of the show involves the two main performers and creators – Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland – either topless or completely naked. It seems potentially gratuitous, titillating or desensitising. Then as women playing men, standing about in their boxer shorts in the morning, it seems fine. After all, men are allowed to walk around in just their pants, aren’t they?
It’s not the only ‘un-ladylike’ behaviour the audience is asked to confront. Women swear. We fight. We fuck. We make our own rules. We rule our own lives now, thank you very much. But does this mean we’re no longer allowed to be feminine? To use our power softly rather than screaming and shouting? Two Man Show speaks to the very heart of identity yet acknowledges that sometimes there are no words to say how we really feel. (KA)

Two Man Show ran at Summerhall until August 27th -


Thoughts from RashDash about on-stage nudity and playing men:

Time – The Crisis in Masculinity:

Ms Magazine – Empowering Femininity: