Manwatching by An Anonymous Woman, Royal Court Upstairs, 13 May 2017

The conceit of this short play is that it is written by an anonymous woman and performed by an unprepared man. A different man each night (otherwise he’d be prepared, wouldn’t he?). The play is primarily about female masturbation and sexual fantasies.

It is all explained on the Royal Court Website – here. The men scheduled to perform the piece at the Royal Court are all comedians. We got a rather good comedian named Liam Williams.

We liked the idea/conceit of this piece more than we liked the piece when we saw it. I don’t think that had anything to do with our comedian; I think there is only so much humour and thoughtfulness that can emerge from the subject.

We laughed a few times. Some of the jokes were genuinely funny; some a bit tame. A couple of women walked out during the show, which I found odd, as the blurb left us with no uncertainty as to the style of content to expect.

There is an “I am Spartacus” device at the end which fell a bit flat, mostly because the middle-aged women who had envelopes with instructions/suggestions couldn’t read same without their glasses, despite it being rather obvious what they were being asked to do. I felt like standing up myself and saying “I am the anonymous woman”, but thought I might be accused of male appropriation.

It was fun but not funtastic. I enjoyed it a bit more than Janie did, although the few reviews so far indicate that women seem to like it more than men:

Janie shared Dominic Cavendish’s scepticism about whether the men really are reading the play entirely unseen. I’m not sure I share the scepticism and I’m really not sure the point matters as much as Anonymous Woman says it does. I don’t think “spontaneous comedians” are being genuinely spontaneous very often, but what do I know?

As for Anonymous Woman’s identity, Andrzej Lukowski has a wild guess at Penelope Skinner. I think it must be one of the Royal Court’s regular female playwrights, possibly Skinner but my guess would be either Lucy Kirkwood or Lucy Prebble.

A short, fun evening out, which we rounded off with a smoked salmon and salad supper at home; very nice.


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