Camden People’s Theatre
Reviewed – 19th September 2017
“a dazzling two-hander”
Man Up! is a dazzling two-hander, deconstructing what it means to be a woman/man/person in the 21st century. Literally stripping the layers of mythology surrounding the terms of gender, Man Up! provides a unique insight into the deconstruction and reconstruction of self through a mixture of discourses: anecdote, stereotype, popular culture and literature. Gliding through the spectrum of gender, Man Up! explores the fluidity of our gendered selves in an entertaining and relatable story of self.
Man-Up follows the story of Milly and Alex, exploring and discussing their lifetime experiences of gender. Both characters begin in clearly defined gendered roles, a femme beauty queen and a masc gamer guy; two highly gendered ‘selves’ divided and isolated from their culturally opposite ‘other’. But as the piece continues, the lines become blurred between feminine and masculine, as they deconstruct the stereotypes that haunt gender by demonstrating the fluidity inherent within it. Swapping sides, the centre-stage line is stripped away, revealing a common humanity and fluidity at the centre of the piece.
The stage begins as two clearly defined stations of masculinity and femininity, but as the characters begin to transform, the space follows, finally transitioning semiotically from a binary division of masculinity and femininity, to a more fluid and amorphous space, demonstrating the wider spectrum of gender. The narrative is accompanied by a series of sketches, cleverly created through use of props and costume; this intelligent physicality is crucial to the piece, breaking up the language-driven narrative with a more visceral demonstration of the story.
The performances give a sense of a verbatim realism, existing somewhere between truth and fiction, the expressiveness and humanity of the performances demands our attention and our empathy. The transformations between femininity and masculinity are incredible to watch, constructed on-stage throughout the piece, truly highlighting the performativity of gender. Man-Up! is hilariously funny and heartbreakingly relevant, it tackles issues that continue to haunt our social and cultural structures in a manner that feels inclusive and understanding of a wider modern audience.
Reviewed by Tasmine Airey
was at Camden People’s Theatre as part of the
Come As You Are Festival