Tuesday, April 23

The Manopause – Hope Street Theatre

As a new piece of writing, it has promising prospects. I will firstly highlight those aspects that I thought went well.

The actor who played Pete, was a solid standout. His way of demonstrating the slouched apathy of life post-50 felt the most natural and was therefore the most comedic.

Michelle Parker’s set worked well as your typical pub, but I wanted more, especially between Act 1 and Act 2. Having no change of set, or costume, or position of actors was jarring and begs the question why there was an interval in the first place.

Having said that, the audience found the performance and some of the dialogue very funny and relatable (from what I heard!), which is always a good start.  

To get this play to the next level, it needs some editing. Paul Daley’s writing had great moments; the quick snappy pace lent itself well to the performance and the handling of dialogue was funny at times. However, as an overall play, the story needs to be stronger. Apart from the various discussions about dogging or ‘the change’ or vasectomies for example, although they were funny, to make them even funnier they need to be supported by a stronger story. We didn’t hear much about the funeral, and Gary’s cancer news came too late. To improve on this, Act 1 could be made half the size. There was a lot of repetition, and the play could really start at Gary’s arrival, or Pete could really have been diagnosed with the manopause. Yes, the prior conversation was funny, but this is a play not a stand-up sketch. A funny moment could be condensed into a few lines from a few pages. To find more story, there needs to be a deeper thought on events that happen, then the action on stage will be more interesting.

Other small aspects that didn’t seem to gel were the guitar on stage, and the music in general. The guitar was only used twice for a brief gag that didn’t do anything for the story, and made me think why is a nice guitar in a pub? Also, the music came in spurts. I felt this was distracting too, as it didn’t add any atmosphere to the action onstage and with a lot of different tracks, felt it became cliché. If the whole play remains set in a pub, why not have a cheesey pub soundtrack on throughout that adds to the sensory atmosphere and brings the audience into the world of the men in the pub.

I did enjoy this performance, but more as a comic sketch than a full 2 Act play. A lot of cutting and editing needs to be done in order for this play to go far, but this is a good start and has some promising qualities.

Reviewer: Hannah Esnouf

Reviewed: 28th April 2023

North West End UK Rating: ★★