The songs range from pop to traditional African and the blend of voices in each arrangement is sumptuous.
To call the various sections ‘monologues’ is a loose description. Some of them are ensemble pieces; added to the music there is some very fine singing and energetic dancing, not to mention plenty of extremely effective blocking which uses the large, bare stage area and cast to great effect. The songs range from pop to traditional African and the blend of voices in each arrangement is sumptuous. Without expecting applause at the end of each song – though it is much deserved – the sections are blended with slick timing and energy.
However, the content of the ‘monologues’ is more disturbing. As an exploration of ‘manhood’ some of the material verges on misogyny, and while the play is described as “five politically- incorrect Africans in an unrelenting roll,” it is not always easy to know if we should sympathise with or despise some of the attitudes being spouted. There are several references to women only wanting men for their money; one monologue talks of this being “a man’s world” even though women, statistically, live longer. In one section, there are six rather dubious takes on what makes a happy marriage.
This all creates a tricky balance with some of the other sections which give a genuinely enlightening account of what it is to be a man. Some of the more poignant monologues about relationships, ageism, societal pressure, infidelity, and erectile dysfunction give a genuine male perspective, but too often end with a somewhat limp message. Nevertheless, whether the script angers or delights the audience, the performance is spirited and exuberant. The writing certainly rises to the occasion when denouncing a rapist as “not worthy to be called a man” but sadly, while this is a great piece of theatre, much of the message is confused and therefore a tad impotent.