The Misandrist

Lisa Carroll
Simon Paris, Oliver Seymour and George Warren for Metal Rabbit Productions
Arcola Theatre (Studio One)

Elf Lyons as Rachel and Nicholas Armfield as Nick Credit: Charles Flint Photography
Nicholas Armfield as Nick and Elf Lyons as Rachel Credit: Charles Flint Photography
Nicholas Armfield as Nick Credit: Charles Flint Photography
Elf Lyons as Rachel and Nicholas Armfield as Nick Credit: Charles Flint Photography

The Misandrist, that is someone who hates men, as misogynists hate women. In this case that is Rachel, though well into the second act, she has a very long tirade naming all the reasons why she hates them that Elf Lyons delivers like a battle broadside barrage, which perhaps is more distrust than hate in her case for she’s been hurt in the past both by boyfriends and by her father.

It presents sex with an in-yer-face jokiness that a packed audience who seemed tanked up found very funny, though the laughs faded later. It is not for the puritanical and if you don’t find a post-coital search for a lost condom comic, perhaps you should stop reading now.

In a bar at an office Christmas party, complete with Santa cap, Rachel is on about Tupperware, seeking to nab some, when she attracts the attention of nice guy Nick (Nicholas Armfield). At first, she is coldly distant with a raised eyebrow stare, but they set off on a one-night stand that leads into a supposedly emotion-free relationship of sexual exploration in which they “fuck everywhere and in every way” in a series of scenes given subtitle names such as “OMG ACTUAL SEX”and “BEGGIN’ FOR PEGGIN’”. At the last, he is initially fearful but then finds anal penetration by her strapped-on dildo pleasurable. A thrill that made him see “my ancestors back to the dawn of time”.

For Nick, it stops being just the “perfunctory” sex they first intended. He admits, “you’ve found a way to my heart through my butt hole,” but later complains that they don’t have normal sex and calls her a bully.

In the second half, when they attend a wedding in Ireland and then her dad’s funeral, things really disintegrate.

Intimacy director Louise Kempton was no doubt kept busy, but director Bethany Pitts avoids literal intercourse. It is acted out semiotically with balletic motion and explosions of gold foil, inventing new ways of figuring orgasm.

Elf Lyons and Nick Armfield grab the attention with strong performances, but we learn very little about them beyond their gender, hardly more than about Rachel’s camp boss whom Armfield also pops up as. At two and a half hours, too much time is spent making the points already exemplified in the sex toys and neon penis of Cara Evans’s setting.

Apart from Rachel’s one real outcry (which earned a deserved round on first night), this misandrist doesn’t really indict men; it is nice Nick who seems hard done by.

Reviewer: Howard Loxton

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