Tuesday, 15 April 2003

Defending the Caveman, with Russell Gilbert, April 15, 2003

Russell Gilbert
Defending the Caveman by Rob Becker  
 Forum Theatre, April April 27, 2003
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Russell Gilbert has taken a leap from his role as a stand-up comic to a more theatrical form of comedy. It is a courageous move as the show calls for significant acting skills that differ from those of a comedian.

 Gilbert is, for the most part, successful in his new role although he seems uncomfortable in the opening monologue and with the more 'actorly' elements. He comes into his own when he relaxes and integrates stories of his own. He becomes more animated when he gets on a roll defending male behaviour.

Defending the Caveman was created and performed on Broadway  by Rob Becker. It is a solo show about the differences between male and female behaviour. It is a show perfect for couples so you can nudge each other in the ribs or whisper, " See? Other people do that. It’s not just me!"

Gilbert begins the performance with a home video of his fiancee and himself at home. He lies on the couch watching television as she parades her new clothes. He wipes the bathroom floor with her towel, mows over her newly planted flowers.

However, the intention of Becker's script is not to belittle men. He wants to explain the differences in communication and thought processes between men and women.

It is recognition theatre in the form of potted relationship therapy. It smacks of the psycho-babble book, Men are from Mars Women are from Venus.

Director, Wayne Harrison  keeps the show simple. There are a few lighting changes that heighten the drama when the mythical Caveman appears to Russell in his circle of sacred underwear in his bedroom. The pace flags at some moments and could be stepped up. The dynamic range is too narrow.

Gilbert seems to enjoy himself by the middle of the show when he is able to demonstrate male behaviour. He wants us to understand his message. He takes us back to the theory of men being hunters and women gatherers. From this, he says, stem all modern gender differences and confusions.

Men have narrow vision based in the need to hunt the prey. Women have a broader focus because of their gathering past. Men like action rather than words. Women are cooperative - they work on group decision-making. Men are negotiators. They bargain in order to win.

The show is fun and, from the groans of recognition, the audience identifies with most of it.

By Kate Herbert

No comments:

Post a Comment