fecund theatre, Intimate Male

Review in Issue 12-4 | Winter 2000

Fecund’s new show, presented here as work-in-progress, is understated and subtle in comparison to the high-energy productions which have made them their name. This is a stripped-down, intimate, thoughtful piece of work, that reflects upon two strands of concern to the performer John Keates – what it means to be a man and thirty, and how to make a piece of theatre that works.

Keates talks us through the performance as he goes along, reading from canonical theatre text books into a video camera, speaking softly into a microphone as he drinks his way through a few cans of beer. Above him, projections of multiple types of thirty-year-old Caucasian males variously cavort and entertain, and this introjection of video opens up the cast beyond the solo performer. This conspicuous yearning to present ‘everyman’ really only illustrates how very specific the point of view of this piece is, and how many experiences of being male and being thirty are left out. There’s no point criticising the piece for not doing what it doesn’t even set out to do, however, and a lot of the material is engaging and funny.

Much of it, though, is irritating (and I guess this too is meant to capture some of the essence of man), not least an extended monologue version of Fight Club that left my friend (who hasn’t seen the film) bewildered. A bit of bad singing was obviously made deliberately bad, and the determinedly untheatrical vocal tone, whilst winning at times, at others becomes too much like a kind of Wooster Group cool, without any of the supreme charm that allows those performers to get away with it. And whilst there’s a lot of great work here, there’s an awful lot of talking that doesn’t always have that much to say.

Presenting Artists
Presenting Venue
Date Seen
  1. Oct 2000

This article in the magazine

Issue 12-4
p. 26