Photo Credit: Polly Thomas.
Man to Man is a story of a woman who takes on her husband’s identity after his death to protect herself, provide for herself, and survive through turmoil in the Nazi takeover. It is an experimental one-woman show in which Maggie Bain transforms herself into endless characters in every realm of a human life. It is a whirlwind of delirium and the re-telling of two lives.
Manfred Karge’s writing provides a beautiful canvas to bring a complex and exhilarating story into the world. Through innovative and boundary-pushing direction, Bruce Guthrie and Scott Graham were able to create a true masterpiece. They pushed physical, vocal, and technical limitations and created a piece that felt like a painting being brought to life.
The continuous soundtrack of the piece created an eerie alternate reality, but the recognizable soundscape kept the world tightly close to our own. The piece successfully shared contrived stories based on truth but also left room for the audience to relate the piece back to today.
Man to Man was unbelievably relevant to current gender stereotypes and the constant trend of questioning the meaning of gender in the modern era. It also deeply connected to mental health disorders and losing a sense of one’s identity and reality through times of chaos.
Andrzej Goulding’s set acted as a playground for Maggie Bain to explore gender, identity, memory, and Ella’s constant dilemma between past and future. It provided endless details for the audience to engage with and be hypnotized by.
The interesting angles, shapes and transparencies were stunning and created a foundation for complex projections and physical theatre. The foundation was sturdy enough for Maggie to climb, fly, stomp, and slide through it. The set had so many hidden elements and room for flow that it effortlessly created illusions for the audience.
The specificity put into every single detail of the piece was astonishing. The play exhibited evidence of a huge deal of research. Man to Man brought the underbelly of reality and the impossible to life. It fueled the audience’s imagination with vivid imagery through a spectacular set, beautiful and powerful writing and directing, and Maggie’s complex shifts in physicalization and vocalization.
Maggie Bain’s stamina and commitment were astounding. She was able to entirely transform from one character to another within a snap. She filled the entire theatre with constant energy, engagement, and exploration. Maggie sustained high-intensity storytelling for an hour and fifteen minutes nonstop like a powerful steam train; all the while making it look completely effortless and believable.
Man to Man is the definition of a piece of art. Everything that went into it was extremely detailed and powerfully executed by a dynamic team. Maggie Bain is a force to be reckoned with and will continue to inspire as the production tours around the world. This is a piece that everyone should see and one that will be remembered for years to come.
Man to Man has ended it’s run in Liverpool but you can check out what else is on at the Everyman Theatre here.
Rebecca Ozer is currently finishing her degree in acting at the Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts. She is originally from New York and enjoys singing, dancing, producing, writing poetry, and devising new work. When she isn’t writing reviews, she can be spotted in productions around Liverpool and within LIPA’s frequent shows and cabarets.