Manikin is Saltire Sky’s latest production, following on from their acclaimed show – 1902. Manikin is a solo piece, written and directed by Nathan Scott Dunn and performed by Josh Brock.
An honest exploration of unresolved generational trauma, and how this affects our behaviour and well-being
The play begins with a call for the protagonist, Fraser, to go back to the start and explain his life’s journey. Beginning with his birth, we are taken through key moments in Fraser’s development, centering primarily on his experience at school. Fraser is bullied because of his weight, and this affects his behaviour, which in turn creates further isolation.
Much of the blame for this chain of events is placed squarely at the feet of Fraser’s mum. It becomes apparent that throughout her life, she has been dogged by issues surrounding her diet and lifestyle culminating in a diagnosis of type two diabetes. She regrets this, and often tells him ‘to do what I say; not what I do’, but lacking the awareness and resources to resolve her issues as a parent, she has unwittingly passed them on to her son who is now suffering the consequences.
Josh Brock’s performance is powerful, emotionally committed and energetic – playing Fraser, his teachers, his friends, and most charmingly, his mum.
There is understandably a lot of anger and resentment to be shared. At times, this can come across like a relentless tirade. The piece overall might therefore benefit from finding a little more performative and vocal variation.
Manikin is not really a play about body-weight or diabetes or bullying. At the core, it’s an honest exploration of unresolved generational trauma, and how this affects our behaviour and well-being.
In our own lives, it’s often hard to ‘see the wood for the trees’ in terms of our own psychology, but plays that zoom out to look at the bigger picture offer us a perspective that can be both useful and cathartic.