(Mark Lawson’s article appeared in the Guardian, 8/8.)
The ever-increasing volume of monologues on the Edinburgh fringe is partly due to the relatively cheapness of singer-speaker pieces. Man to Man, though, is a solo show that feels big-budget and large-cast. Through vocal variations and visual tricks – such as projected silhouettes or a jacket over the back of a chair evoking a man – the stage feels crowded. And the actor, Margaret Ann Bain, fills every inch of it, scaling footholds like a human spider to deliver speeches from the near the ceiling or an armchair lodged halfway up a wall.
Manfred Karge’s play was premiered in Germany in 1982 and, five years later, provided a showcase at the Edinburgh festival for the shape-shifting skills of Tilda Swinton. The 27-section prose-poem has the feel of an East German version of TS Eliot’s The Waste Land: a complex interplay of private and public voices and cultural quotations raise the ghosts of the Nazi and Soviet past and – in a recently added scene – the fall of the Berlin Wall.
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