With Testosterone, Rhum and Clay have proven themselves to be one of the most exciting and engaging theatre companies currently working in Britain.
The show is set in a men’s changing room where all the social norms are explored with wit and some excellently expressive movement sequences in which the ensemble deconstruct and analyse what we consider typically male behaviour and interactions. It’s a highly effective technique, allowing us to see just how absurd these rituals really are and helping us understand Redstone’s own frustrations of how to ‘pass’ as a man. Bell Hooks once said that “The first act of violence that patriarchy demands of males is not violence toward women. Instead patriarchy demands of all males that they engage in acts of psychic self-mutilation, that they kill off the emotional parts of themselves.” The company have clearly understood Hooks’ point and in every scene they reveal another aspect of the violence and emotional repression that modern masculinity demands, from the traditional macho man to the modern metrosexual.
The stage design ingeniously traps Redstone in his own personal hell, the gym’s male changing room, with an enormous mirror dominating the entire back wall which distorts the appearances of all the actors onstage. This distortion further emphasises the ridiculous everyday performances and overall bravado of male interactions. This, along with Redstone’s heart-warming rendition of I wanna be like you from The Jungle Book, means that we’re rooting for him and the final stage image is probably one of the most striking and moving that you’ll see at the Fringe.
The only downside is that some of the sections feel slightly rushed and would benefit from more space to breathe and develop. Fringe time restrictions have had an unfortunate effect of making the show feel ever so slightly incomplete, with the feeling that it’s missing an extra scene or two to finish the whole thing off.
However this is a minor quibble and the show is sure to introduce you to a radically different and insightful perspective. With Testosterone, Rhum and Clay have proven themselves to be one of the most exciting and engaging theatre companies currently working in Britain.