02 October 2007

Testosterone

MELBOURNE FRINGE 2007
Testosterone
2 October 2007
Fringe Hub

Testosterone has the most appropriate venue this Fringe. Set at the reception venue of a Polish wedding disaster, the Lithuanian Club Ball room could be no better. When this play was recently filmed in Poland it broke box office records. Rah Rah Productions version has some inspired and funny moments, but isn’t gelling as a whole and failing in its satire.

It’s described as “politically incorrect and relevant”. Unfortunately it’s neither. It’s the story of group of drunken men who get violent, drunk, honest, more drunk and ultimately bond. Luckily there are some characters who are biologists, so they can intersperse the story with lectures about what testosterone is and how it affects men.

I learnt that castrated men tend to live long lives, because high levels of testosterone make you more susceptible to disease. And women with high levels of testosterone like sex. Sigh. At times all it really showed was a mob of stereotyped yobs who may be better off blaming their behaviour on their attitudes, choices and beliefs, rather than their dominant hormone.

Don’t get me wrong. I love a damn good “politically incorrect” satire. Chris Lilley is currently doing it brilliantly on the ABC. Humour is a mighty strong way to show how absurd some situations are. However, you really have to understand the fine line between satire and offensive when you’re yelling “damned be all the cheating bitches of this world.” Perhaps it’s my oestrogen levels, but I wasn’t laughing all the time and 70 minutes of “fucking bitches” did begin to get a bit icky.

There were some terrific moments and clever direction. The scene changes interludes are perfectly absurd, the improvised band where scene is lovely and the realisation that men only invented footy to impress women, but “when we want to watch it “ those “fucking bitches” force us to look away had me laughing out loud. But they were just moments. It’s an illustrative work of mighty fine characters, so it needs a very strong guide to make it an engaging overall story, rather than a collage of moments.

I can see what this script is trying to do and I like what this script is trying to do. This production is heading in the right direction, but needs more coherency, more forceful direction and a much better grasp of satire.

This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.

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