Defending the Caveman, the one man show starring well loved Australian comedian Mark Little, is a witty exploration of gender roles and social opinion. Upon entering the theatre you are welcomed into Mark’s slightly cave-ish living room, complete with cave paintings and Flintstones style furniture. Mark’s spear is ready at hand–beside the remote.
As Mark entered the stage it was hard to tell if he was a character in the show or the host about to announce the show–and I got feeling he didn’t like his shirt. Although opening night may have started slowly, the audience soon grew comfortable with a stage show that crossed over into stand up comedy. Mark found a groove and got comfortable. Moments later laughter erupted as we started to identify with the scenarios plaguing Mark and his wife Cath. Hunters vs. gathers and negotiation vs. cooperation were common themes. Writer Rob Becker has obviously done his homework on the subject; the humor is based in anthropological study, the philosophy of gender, and real day to day life.
It’s a great laugh. It’s easy to relate to. And there is never a better time to laugh about what makes us different than right now.
Seeing this play reminded me of something I had read recently. Isn’t that funny how you come across something new and then you start seeing it everywhere?! My favorite philosopher, Ken Wilber, has some great things to say about gender roles and feminism.
“…we can learn to value the differences between the male and female value spheres. Those differences, even according to the radical feminists, appear to be here for good — but we can learn to value them with more equal emphasis. How to do so is one of things we might want to talk about.”
(1996, A Brief History of Everything)
Hit Me! The Life and Rhymes of Ian Dury is a play wonderfully written by Jeff Merrifield, and well carried by Jud Charlton (playing Ian Dury) and Josh Darcy (playing Fred Rowe). There isn’t much of a storyline or a plot, but you don’t really notice until it’s over. The play is more of a study, and a celebration, of Ian’s life as told by the man who may have known him best of all. Several of Dury’s best known hits are performed in the show, cleverly intertwined into the backstory exchanged by the two actors. Although there may have been more c***s and f***s than all the other words added together, the story seemed to have the ring of authenticity.
The play is written cleverly, sharing intimate details of Dury’s life while also capturing him at three distinct stages of his career. I was thankful for the comic relief in the second half, perhaps owing to the heavy subjects addressed in the first.
The characters were accessible–tangible even. At times the audience became a third character in the play, sometimes as a friend on the listening end of a conversation and often as the audience member of one of those memorable Ian Dury and the Blockheads shows. Ian Dury fans were definitely in attendance; they sang along, they danced, they laughed at all the right moments and clapped the loudest. They also had a hard time moving away from the bar to their seat before the show started and after the intermission (or “interval” as may be used the universally used term in London). It is understandable that these live music lovers may have felt a little out of place in a theatre seat. It is interesting to note that the Leicester Square Theatre used to be a live music venue, which I understand, hosted Ian Dury in his day.
The set was cleverly designed, and the lighting design helped transport the actors and audience between locations. I did appreciate the attention to detail taken in costume design and the time it must have taken to put all the hats back in place after each show…
We were told at the interval that Fred Rowe was actually sitting in front of us with Ian Dury’s children, though it was unknown if all of his children were in attendance. They looked like a handsome bunch, but I didn’t have the nerve to ask them what they thought of the show–if Drew hadn’t been with me I might have. But I know how I embarrass him when I talk to strangers…
Keep in mind that I am no theatre critic. I am sure there are plenty of good ones out there, but the chances that you will know how wrong or right I am are slim. So, take my word for it. It was fabulous.