Helena Fox

‘Two Man Show’ is an Edinburgh Fringe award-winning piece of feminist theatre written by RashDash, a company of three women who believe in creating art which feels not just with the head but also with ‘our toes, our knees and our ribs’. Tigerlily Hutchinson and Sara Hazemi are two of Cambridge’s finest actors, and director Chloe Lansley always adds excitement. And there’s live music from a talented quartet to top it all off. This show has a lot of potential.

Each element of the production on its own lived up to that potential. Hazemi performed her parts with a subtlety and earnestness which asked for its own space within the question of woman; Hutchinson delivered her lines with a confidence which forced us to follow her as she created meaning out of the seemingly trivial and deflated the momentous. The language plays in the Cards Against Humanity scene were managed particularly skilfully, as the lines led outwards from the game and its possibility for jokes towards the reality of familial relations into an agreement to stop speaking these words altogether. The two together created beautiful moments of physical theatre and dance which alternated grace and brutality, bending their bodies over one another and then viscerally – and audibly – punching one another in the face (Eleanor Lind Booton deserves a mention for her creative and convincing fight choreography).

The music (especially the last song) flowed along with the feeling of the play, at times bringing out the electric guitars in a frenzied song against the patriarchy, and at the end of the play focusing on vocals to create a mesmerising final scene. These four musicians (Mariam Abdel-Razek, Olivia Miller, Phoebe Schenk and Matilda Schwefel) are clearly talented, and my one complaint would be that they were under-used: I would have liked to have heard more from them.

Helena Fox

The costumes were cleverly chosen, and I particularly liked Hazemi and Hutchinson’s undressing and dressing in the first scenes, and then gradually undressing until they were in tight nude outfits that seemed to suggest a certain rawness in their final monologues.

"The two together created beautiful moments of physical theatre and dance which alternated grace and brutality"

But now to turn to the monologues. These were written by the women from RashDash, to be performed by them, and I think this came across in the performance. That is to say, I’m not sure it felt real enough to me. I couldn’t particularly relate to either woman in the last scene, and that would have been fine, if I had believed that I was listening to words that Hazemi and Hutchinson really felt. The first half of the show, where Hazemi and Hutchinson were playing men, felt scripted, but it was supposed to feel like that, as here they were clearly playing characters: it was when they broke out of character and the play collapsed into self-expression in monologue that I thought something was going to change – but it still felt like they were reading someone else’s words. I just didn’t believe that ‘Sara’ and ‘Tiger’ were playing Sara and Tiger, and not a character written for them by someone else.

It was a shame, because this show came close to being good. But its message – that there are so many different ways to be a woman – was lost because it was spoken by characters and not by the actors themselves. The final monologues felt like they could have been hilarious and wonderfully poignant, but the comedy was lost because it felt like they were reading out someone else’s piece of stand-up. To use a word from another review of this production: it could have been ‘incendiary’, but it just missed the spark to start the fire.


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