Top ratings aren’t always just about putting on a remarkable production, although
This is not just drama for entertainment but theatre for social change.
There aren’t many taboo subjects left to write about, but suicide is firmly in the realm of the uncomfortable and embarrassing. Generically it is difficult enough but when pinned onto the shoulders of men it becomes invested with incredulity. This production doesn’t flinch from pumping out some alarming statistics in the middle of an innovative drama. They are blunt intrusion that stops the play, rather like a timeout in a game of basketball, as though to say, “If you think this is just about entertainment, sit up and listen to the harsh realities. Got it? OK, let’s carry on”.
5 Out of 10 Men knows what it’s talking about. It is derived from several years of intensive practical research and development that included physical workshops and sharings among groups of men involving practitioners from various fields. That many men tend to be clamped up, emotionally inarticulate and unable to express their destructive inner self makes garnering material all the more difficult. Here the text and action finds a way of breaking down the barrage of defence mechanisms through the story of one man who like so many doesn’t want to be a burden on others.
Set in the round this ensemble work played by Kwesi Davies, Ivy Corbin, Ana Brothers, Carlton James & Duncan Alldridge uses physical theatre to weave its way through the man’s life and issues, starting with a vigorous workout routine. In what, at times, is clearly made to feel like a therapy session, the man is led into pouring out his soul and facing his demons. The powerful performances come not just from the cast being accomplished actors but also from their passionate desire to bring this subject into the public domain.
5 Out of 10 Men really is groundbreaking theatre and not in the least as heavy as it’s subject matter suggests. There is humour and an air of good being done that is uplifting. It is also refreshing to see men as the focus of a serious gender issue. The play ends but the issue remains. This is not just drama for entertainment but theatre for social change.