Two Man Show West Yorkshire Playhouse, Leeds 3/5 THREE-QUARTERS of the way through Two Man Show, Abbi Greenland observes: “You need to be specific if you want people to understand you,” an observation RashDash apply only loosely to their latest, high-energy production.
An examination of masculinity and patriarchy —Greenland and fellow performer Helen Goalen assume the roles of brothers John and Dan throughout — the show has flashes of sheer brilliance and moments when audience members are left scratching their heads in confusion. Quite possibly, that’s what the duo and musician Becky Wilkie are hoping to achieve.
Ricocheting from idea to idea, they ponder the domestication of cattle and matriarchal monkey societies via discordant punk songs, jousts with penis batons and contemporary dance routines. Bolting these sections together are awkward conversations between the two brothers that are set against the backdrop of their dying father.
The dialogue, by turns obtuse, touching and comedic in its stereotypically male emotional constipation, is imbued with irony — this gendered and ineffectual man-made language is conveyed by two women naked from the waist down.
The conceit is shattered when Goalen steps outside of role, leaving Greenland to deliver a lengthy tirade about wanting to remain in the persona of a “man-woman.” Spat out with the freneticism of a Kate Tempest, her shotgun assault on the senses leaves the listener reeling in attempting to absorb the number of themes raised.
This isn’t a show that weaves its subject matter into a solution for the crisis in masculinity. But Greenland does hint at a third way forward when she rants: “I’m not alpha. I’m not beta. I’m omega.” Tours until October 21, box office: rashdash.co.uk