A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego @ Pleasance Dome
Full to the brim with irony and slapstick, feminist theatre company Jordan and Skinner return to the Fringe with their new show, A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego
Unsettled but smiley lecturer Andrea (played by Melanie Jordan) prepares her talk on the male ego. She’s faced a bit of trouble in the past with these lectures but is determined to succeed this time with the use of many props and characters. Jordan is a busy performer, moving like clockwork at 100mph. Her passion, relentless energy and expression is quirky and impressive.
Our history teachings are already dominated by men. In an exploration (and mockery) of some of these classic characters, including Poseidon, Freud and José Mourinho, we hear their problems in a heightened and modern context. Although physically and vocally interesting, most of the sketches feature cheap laughs and obscure but forgettable writing. William Wallace engaging with the audience asking what they’re willing to die for is a highlight which reminds us in a comical light how dangerous male pride can be.
There’s a real feminist wit that shines through. Jordan as Andrea as Sigmund Freud, armed with a needle, compares the male ego to a balloon and a female ego to a sponge, commenting that “women can survive a few pricks.” Focusing on an exaggerated comedy style, some of the seriousness of toxic masculinity gets lost and it’s unclear what the point of the piece is. In saying that, there is a really touching moment where the pace slows down, that hints towards the silence Andrea faces as she tries to speak with her dad. It's a bit unrelated to the overall concept, but it's an intewresting layer that gives the piece more depth.
With some banging tunes and a surprise baton routine, A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego is a fast-paced hour that sheds a tiny bit of light on a present issue, and that might just open up an important conversation.
A Brief History of the Fragile Male Ego, Pleasance Dome (Ace Dome), until 26 Aug (not 21), 4pm, £9-12