The Man Presents: Women

Sat 4th – Sun 26th August 2018


Thomas Goodyer

at 09:26 on 17th Aug 2018



To create a fictional character is to splosh out some keening jet of your own worldview. No character can be created without indicating some of the author’s relationship to the object they are writing. This means we get stereotypes; we get the vauntingly idealistic and pared down. This means creating a fictional character is an ineluctably political act. ‘The Man Presents: Women,’ directed by Ania Magliano, is a series of comic examinations of this act - when it comes to men writing women.

We get the dumb, the "spunky"; we get the princesses, the dramatic devices, the divorced – we get seven different women delivering ribald monologues, which intimate at the more complex personas withering beneath the two dimensional stereotypes they are subverting. Belle from ‘Beauty and the Beast’ is dying from bestial STIs, and a Romcom character's best friend is smilingly stuck in a world of eternal non-development. Each one is very well written, barbed and funny, skewering the moral superciliousness of male metro-feminists, the simultaneous prejudice and patronisation of the media-entertainment complex. It’s a show that is at its best on the attack or in the surreal; or with the clacking nails of a New York life-coach being used to describe Jesus as a gecko.

The structure gives the show pace and freshness. Each character comes in a whirling flurry and leaves equally abruptly. This means the energy of the performers is allowed to be concentrated and tight, their short pieces delivered without padding. There was still room for improvisation though, which was also well placed and strange, and the framing narrative lent a focus to the disparate monologues, tying it all together nicely.

It is obviously refreshing to see a show that tackles an ignorance that tackles such long standing ignorance. But most importantly, this does so while being incredibly funny.


Kathryn Tann

at 13:04 on 17th Aug 2018



The title of this show filled me with dread. However, upon hearing that it was in fact to be performed by a group of talented feminist actresses and comedians, my hopes soared. ‘The Man Presents: Women’ ended up falling somewhere in the middle, though it did at least exude an atmosphere of light-hearted rebellion, which is always welcome on a Thursday evening at the Fringe.

Opening with an introduction from ‘the Man’ – appropriately moustached and sleazy – ‘The Man Presents: Women’ had certain audience members cackling from the get-go. The only problem? I just wasn’t laughing. I like to think I have a very easy-to-please sense of humour; I’ll laugh at anything. But as each joke landed all I felt was disappointment. This show was a great idea – the women men can’t seem to write – but its delivery, from my seat, felt laboured and lacking in wit.

There were, of course, certain highlights to the comedy. The ukulele-playing siren scene brought forth the occasional chuckle, and whoever thought of using clothes pegs as exaggerated fake nails is a genius. But jokes about Belle’s bestiality felt stale and unnecessarily crude (though I normally welcome black comedy), audience interactions were always awkwardly aimed at the same three front-row sitters, and the comedy of the Welsh charity shop manager monologue seemed to rely almost entirely on her archetypal Nessa-like accent.

The main aim of the show was clearly to highlight the ridiculous limitations of female representations in the media – a topic which is being discussed more loudly than ever before. But for me this message felt buried under a humour that didn’t quite cut it, where it should instead have been buoyed up by its comedy. It became a carousel of characters reciting jokes and waiting for the audience to laugh (which, in their defence, a portion always did). Had every monologue been from the viewpoint of an obvious film or TV archetype (like the rom com ‘best friend’ trapped in a one dimensional purgatory), the piece would have felt more focused and assured of its purpose.

I wish I had a more concrete way of explaining why I didn’t enjoy this show. Perhaps it’s merely a Marmite situation. The performers were all talented, the momentum was maintained very well throughout, and the premise was a good one. Nevertheless, every quality show should make you feel something, especially those which strive to make a point, and I came away from ‘The Man Presents: Women’ feeling almost completely unchanged.


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