Man Feelings

Sun 4th – Tue 6th August 2013

reviews

Megan Stodel

at 10:00 on 7th Aug 2013

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Starting 45 minutes after midnight means it is going to be a challenge for a show to get an audience. There were a handful of us watching ‘Man Feelings’, which wouldn’t have mattered except that the performers’ frustration was obvious as they quizzed everyone before the show started about whether we were there due to their flyering. This early interaction made it slightly more difficult to get into the first sketch, the one that sets up the premise of the show; it would have been better if the performers had avoided being on stage at the start and talking to the audience, or kept the pre-show chat to entertainment itself.

‘Man Feelings’ is supposedly exploring the possibility of men having emotions. The first scene is a trial, with James Cottle questioned by Kevin Kennedy’s Judge Kevin about his propensity to display emotion (such as crying at the ending of Toy Story 3). We return to this set-up several times as the show progresses, with the intervening sketches all supposedly related to this interrogation of masculinities. I found it difficult to see any link between most of them, which wouldn’t be a problem except for the structure insisting that there is a relation.

There were a couple of clever ideas that could have developed into fantastically funny sketches. The misleading acronyms scene would have benefitted from being reprised throughout the show as it lends itself to repetition and expansion. I also enjoyed the chess-based sketch: again, a charming idea, but without quite enough attention to detail to exploit the maximum humour of the scenario. The only sketch that I thoroughly enjoyed was the game show ‘Mercenary Millionaires’, where an intense terrorist played by Cottle competed for a range of prizes on a programme hosted by the lively Kennedy. The juxtaposition worked well and both committed to the portrayal of their characters.

However, for most of the rest of the show, I found the sketches weaker. I often had a smile on my face, recognising the potential of the comic scenarios, but the potential of many were simply not realised; they frequently dragged and failed to find satisfactory endings.

Kennedy and Cottle are energetic and earnest. They are clearly good at devising comic scenarios; however, this only goes so far without more meticulous honing of their ideas and commitment to the development of their sketches.

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Florence Strickland

at 10:44 on 7th Aug 2013

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It was 12:45 AM in what was surely the smelliest back room of a pub in Edinburgh. James Cottle and Kevin Kennedy presented a two-man sketch show, which at that time of night could have gone either way. Indeed this was the sense the show gave; would it succeed or fail? From one moment to the next one wasn’t quite sure.

We were led through a series of sketches, framed by a man in court being condemned by an extremely loud judge for showing his feelings – crying at the end of films, eating ice-cream after a breakup. There was a mostly successful irony that was demonstrated throughout. Stereotypical homophobia, one-upmanship and sexism were bandied around like nobody’s business, looking for laughter. I did find many moments funny, and my concern that the show might be terrible was assuaged about halfway through.

Men showing their feelings was presented with the common, but perhaps outdated, perception that men themselves believe it is somehow weak or feminine. Of course by setting the standards for men, women are also insulted. But how relevant is this topic right now? Perhaps I am surrounded by a lot of men with a lot of feelings, but who really comes across the bawdy pint-wielding lad (of course not by choice) with as much frequency as we used to? And even if we do, even these blokes seem to weep at the fourteenth pint. Is there such a thing as a stiff upper lip anymore? I would hope that we now live in a day and age where it is acknowledged that men experience many of the same feelings as women. More men than ever before are speaking about their struggles with anorexia. The feelings of everyone are respected far more than they used to be - they are equal in value.

Therefore this was perhaps the type of comedy that was slightly out of date. Although some of the sketches were cleverer than others – I particularly liked the two chess pieces fighting – it did not move away from some of the basic topics of the subject that they were exploring. There were not necessarily new takes on the way men were stereotyped, although of course the sketches were original. The actors themselves were extremely likable, and evidently experienced performers. Perhaps by giving slightly more depth to their act, they could up the laughter-guage and have a real success on their hands.

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