Manbo

Sam Dugmore
Gilded Balloon Teviot

Manbo

Sam Dugmore’s larger than life character creation is a passionate homage to eighties action movies, borrowing almost exclusively from the Stallone canon.

Every trope is affectionately sent up, from the nameless female contact killed behind enemy lines, to the hero’s inability to communicate genuine emotions of any kind.

Sam’s tireless energy is genuinely infectious as he wins over even the most unwilling volunteers / audience members to indulge in the recreation of this epic action adventure.

There are genuine belly laughs, mostly in disbelief in the absurdity of Manbo as a character. However, there are only so many times you can repeat the metaphor of “gun as penis extension” before it begins to wear a little thin.

Dugmore uses the audience well to give us the best friend (Adrian) who died a heroic death, appearing in flashback with sage-like advice, female contact / love interest and the evil torturer. However, although Manbo is a send-up of all this machismo, I didn’t feel it went far enough to challenge his rampant misogyny. It might be that asking Adrian and the audience for advice on living a better life is an opportunity for us to hold him to account, but there isn’t enough of a tone-shift to really make this clear.

Without that pay off, we are left with an hour of buffoonery that is enjoyable and exciting enough, but lacks sufficient heft to make it memorable—just like much of Stallone’s work I guess…

Reviewer: Tony Trigwell-Jones