Two Man Show
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Brave, absurdist, silly skewering of the language of patriarchy from RashDash
'Two Man Show' returns to Soho Theatre in October 2017. This review is from the 2016 Edinburgh Fringe run.
The easiest thing to decipher about ‘Two Man Show’ is the name. RashDash are in fact two women (Helen Goalen and Abbi Greenland), and they’re joined here by a third, musician Becky Wilkie. But the most narratively conventional portions of the piece see Abbi and Helen playing John and Dan, a pair of estranged brothers reunited by their father’s terminal illness. It’s a study in male passive-aggressiveness played dead straight: a lot of saying ‘mate’ very menacingly as long-suppressed resentments slowly simmer their way to the surface. It’s intentionally somewhat clichéd, but an exploration rather than a piss-take.
But that is not the whole show. It begins in the most startling way possible as the three performers come on dressed in cod-futuristic silver robes and launch into a strident history of male subjugation of women delivered in absurd pitch-shifted voices. They play some punk songs.
And then there’s the naked dancing: the Dan and John sections are intercut with sequences where Goalen and Greenland take off all their clothes and launch into graceful quasi-ballet sequences that clearly freak out a fair chunk of the audience – and are, I think, supposed to be somewhat ironic attempts at ‘feminine’ expression in contrast to Dan and John’s unadorned words.
To be honest, I was starting to freak out too, not so much because of the boobs, more because I was increasingly struggling to concoct a clever-sounding thesis on what was going on. But then it upends itself brilliantly, as Greenland (now locked in the persona of John) confronts Goalen about the point of the dance sequences.
I thiiiiink it’s a feminist show about the difficulties of making a feminist show, about how hard certainties, bald statements and even our language aren’t always helpful when discussing the differences between the genders, about how you can send yourself mad thinking about all the minutiae. But I could be a bit off piste. RashDash clearly play on the idea that they don’t exactly know what it is either, and that’s half the fun. And it is tremendously fun, a fizzily provocative romp that crackles with punk rock energy.