After doing the Top 7 Plays with an All Female Cast, it only seems fair to do things the other way and look at the best plays with an all male cast, despite the fact that it is far easier to find plays dominated by men.
An all male cast is often an opportunity to explore often neglected issues which affect men. Here are some of the strongest and most interesting plays to look at when working with an all male cast.
1. Waiting for Godot, Samuel Beckett
Two men, a tree, three passersby and bizarre conversation make up one of the most deceptively complex plays ever written. No matter how you look at this play, whether you think that all of the characters are representative of one consciousness, are in long and co-dependent intimate relationships, or the entire plot is based around a surreal exploration of philosophy, there is plenty to explore and work on in this story of forever waiting for a man who doesn’t show up.
2. For Reasons that Remain Unclear, Mart Crowley
Two men meet each other in Rome. One is a screenwriter in the city making a film, the other a priest attending a religious conference. The screenwriter recognises the priest as the man who molested him while at school and invites him for a drink without revealing this fact. This dark tale explores the consequences of child abuse and what happens when a sufferer encounters their abuser in adulthood.
3. Four Play, Jake Brunger
Rafe and Pete have been together for seven and a half blissful years, but now they’ve hit a rut and it’s driving them apart. Thinking a lack of experience is the cause of all their problems they invite their friend Michael to help them out. But Michael has his own partner, Andrew. Rafe and Pete’s attempt to fix their issues soon opens up a can of worms that will change all of their lives. This is a refreshing and honest look at relationships in the modern world of dating apps and social media.
4. Journey’s End, R. C. Sherriff
Set in the World War One trenches in the days leading up to a catastrophic German attack, this powerful piece of drama looks at the relationships between young men in a situation of claustrophobia and high stress against the backdrop of horror and tragedy. Tense and breathtaking, poignancy is added as the relationship between new recruit Lieutenant Raleigh and Captain Stanhope, his childhood friend and hero, who has been changed dramatically by the war, is explored.
5. Lord of the Flies, Nigel Williams
Adapted from William Golding’s classic novel, this play would be particularly suitable for younger actors. Providing the opportunity to create an electric atmosphere using light and noise, this is a wonderful piece of theatre to experiment with. Dancing, chanting, stamping, fire and cries of passion, this dark story of power and corruption, isolation and bullying, control and loss of control, will take the audience’s breath away. Made more tragic and horrific by the ages of the characters this is a commentary on society which never ages.
6. Twelve Angry Men, Sherman Sergel
This is the timeless tale of what goes on behind the closed door of a jury room which will leave both cast and audience questioning what they would do if they held a stranger’s future in their hands. In what appears to be an open and shut case, a 19-year-old man has just stood trial for the murder of his father. It seems he is obviously guilty but as the story unfolds in the jury room the facts begin to blur. The members of the jury are determined not to make it personal but as discussions become more and more heated personal lives take centre stage. Tempers are lost, certainty disappears and the final verdict will be sure to see your audience on the edge of their seats.
7. A Number, Caryl Churchill
This powerful play appears to be science fiction on the surface, albeit science fiction that seems entirely possible, if not probable. Dealing with human cloning and the effects around it, it is also a heartrending look at the relationship between a father and his son. Brutal and tragic the characters struggle to get what they need from each other. Looking at everything that can go wrong in a parent and child relationship, including what happens when the parent is absent altogether, this is a dark story that seems frighteningly plausible.
Putting on an all male play may seem unfair as it is often quite difficult for women to get roles in theatres, but it can offer an opportunity to explore gender in more detail. Gender swapping roles provides the opportunity to explore different aspects of the role while also giving women the opportunity to play a role they wouldn’t normally be offered.
You could also put on a double bill with an all female play as an exploration of gender and how it affects society. For example, A Number by Caryl Churchill is a relatively short play and could be performed alongside one of her other plays Top Girls which has an all female cast. Another option if time was limited would be to only perform the first act of Top Girls which provides a wonderful exploration of women through time.
So as well as creating an opportunity to explore the role of men in society, putting on an all male play doesn’t need to exclude women altogether.