Real Men Dream in Black and White

THEATRE
**
Real Men Dream in Black and White
Greenside

Four lads of maybe 16 appear on stage one by one. The fourth is bearded and brings a magazine – and shows them the centre spread which they anticipate greatly, but then find “not nice”. The audience laughed and thus the lads began to charm them. On leaving there were many who were saying that the lads were sweet and cuddly. They had worked a spell on many.

However, I wonder if the audience paid much attention to the other half of the show – the voice-over which was only just clear and which to me sounded as though it could have been the young sister of one of them. This talked about initiation into manhood, the way that this was marked by particular rites in many societies. (And not in ours? Exams? Apprenticeships? Driving tests? But these now are also all taken by women – which opens up an area this show seemed not to have thought of).

The lads then run about and enjoy themselves, observe each other as if from the outside and say what they see (straight from a school drama lesson this one, and could easily have been tweaked to be more challenging), then talk to the audience about photos that are significant to them and tell the audience some personal things about their lives. More is said in voice over about initiations, culminating in a description of a supposed native American ritual used in a hit film years ago, where the youths are hung from a tree by their nipples and subjected to various agonies. Whether the suggestion was that this would be good for these lads was not clear.

And that was it. The audience, as I said, seemed charmed and happy. I felt that an opportunity had been missed, and that the show was poorly conceived and lacking focus.