Brighton Fringe 2016
A one-act comedy that promises to look at the state of man in the 21st century. With high production values and relatable characters, there is more than enough to keep the audience entertained for an hour, though the dialogue doesn’t quite reach the depth that it promises at the start.
Barry has booked his son-in-law Martin a trip into space for his stag do. Accompanying them on board the space shuttle Cassandra is Alan, the father of the bride-to-be. Launched from Britain’s newest space base, Bodmin, the shuttle malfunctions and fails to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere. The trio are then plunged into a desperate situation with only panpipe music to keep them from going insane.
The stage is in darkness as the audience enter, and once seated the cast walk into the spotlight one by one. The light flashes briefly on their faces, giving the audience their first chortle as each actor strikes a pose that immediately gives an insight into their character. Martin is the reluctant groom-to-be, Barry his working man step-father, and Alan the resigned and lonely father of the bride.
Throughout the journey, the trio find time to discuss sexual liberation (Barry: “I’ve just discovered sexting!”), feminism (Martin, to Barry’s disgust: “Yes, I’m a feminist.”) and technology (Barry: “Fiona sold a car on Snapchat the other day. Snapchat! What even is Snapchat?”). Much of the social commentary is provided by car dealer Barry’s rants about masculinity, contrasted by Martin’s more liberal attitude and Alan’s apparent disinterest in the whole conversation.
The set for the show is basic, with three airline seats and a selection of hand props. Strong performances and great comedic timing from all three cast members are complemented by wonderful sound and lighting. Scene changes are smooth, with lighting states providing both a change in mood, and an indication of physical changes within the shuttle.
The soundscape itself starts as standard sci-fi fare, before the panpipes kick in and add a subtle comedic undertone to the anger, frustration and excitement within each scene. The voice of the computer, the sound of the shuttle and other sound effects are of a high quality and add value to the action.
Under the sub-category “funny” in the Brighton Fringe Theatre listings, this show holds up its promise of “a funny look at the state of man in the 21st century”, though if I were to be pedantic I would suggest that it should read “a funny look at the state of men in the 21st century”, as there is very little, if any, female representation in the play. However, with a show called Menkind, this can be forgiven.
There are a handful of theatrical set-pieces in the play, most of which complement the show, although alongside the largely naturalistic dialogue, one or two do jar slightly. Thankfully this doesn’t take away too much from a well-produced play.
The show is an hour long – which felt right. There is nothing hugely original here, but what is delivered is enjoyable, and there are plenty of laughs to be had. The audience reaction was positive and both my friend and I enjoyed the choice of ending, which I will not spoil. This well-produced show is a recommended show for men, and with a little work on the dialogue it could be a highly recommended show for Menkind.