New Diorama Theatre
Reviewed – 28th November 2018
“matches physical strength with volatile emotions, charm, tenderness and a fun, rough-and-tumble group dynamic”
The phrase “boys will be boys”, with all its implied gender fatalism (thanks Sara Ahmed), is one we all know well. But it can also be a question: Will they really? Do they want to be? Do they have a choice? All these questions, and more, are at the heart of ‘Boys’, a boisterous, playful, energetic, and poignant investigation into modern day masculinity.
Both a celebration and deconstruction of manhood, ‘Boys’ is physical theatre at its brilliant best. Its nine-strong ensemble from the PappyShow theatre company, sing, speak and dance their way around unsparing subject matter. Discipline, endurance, heritage, and brotherhood become the building blocks of the show, and we learn through the stories and (personal) experiences of these devisers/performers to question our own prejudices and assumptions about gender.
Although serious in subject matter, ‘Boys’ is playful and witty theatre. Members of the ensemble are frequently, literally, put on the spot as individuals are ‘randomly’ selected and asked questions designed to explore male vulnerability and honesty: What’s your problem? Name three things you love about your body. Give someone else in the group a compliment. These moments force the boys to engage with emotions openly and brutally, intercut between highly energetic movement pieces, ensemble work, and achingly fragile duets.
The founder of PappyShow, Kane Husbands’ ensemble matches physical strength with volatile emotions, charm, tenderness and a fun, rough-and-tumble group dynamic. The message might be: we are different, but we are one. Brotherhood, and the particular nature of male relationships, should not be taken for granted. Most importantly, we should never stop playing, never stop being boys. Growing up is painful, we all have our own crosses to bear, and seeking similarities rather than differences between each other is perhaps the greatest way to overcome the demons we face along the way.
‘Boys’ starts with a fight and ends with brotherhood. It’s contradictory, messy, hilarious, joyful, scary, and we are comforted knowing no one should feel alone. Don’t be afraid to make yourself vulnerable. Don’t be afraid to be the boy you want to be. And, more urgently, don’t miss this show!
Reviewed by Joseph Prestwich
Photography courtesy PappyShow
New Diorama Theatre until 1st December
Previously reviewed at this venue: