Two Men Talking

Paul Browde and Murray Nossel
Assembly Rooms

The title says it all. For 70 minutes two shaven-headed South Africans dressed in black, gently rib each other over their intersecting memoirs.

What makes this show unusual is the fact that one is a psychiatrist and the other a clinical psychologist and increasingly as they bare their souls and talk of friends (and enemies), a distinctive, analytical approach emerges.

The style is laid back with the actors periodically slipping out of their stories to comment on their performance and direct themselves and each other. Whether this is scripted is unclear, as is the veracity of their stories. This could all be invented but if so, their (faux) sincerity is impressive.

The pair met as twelve year olds at a Jewish school in Johannesburg in which effeminate Murray was regularly bullied. Thereafter their lives intersect until they eventually become a theatrical team.

Their experiences are defined by careers that each combine medicine with play acting but also by their homosexuality and the constant threat of AIDS. With remarkable frankness, Paul explains that he was diagnosed HIV positive twenty years ago, while Murray is an advert for the practice of safe sex.

Through anecdotes and a strict chronology, the pair provide an entertainment that is well-crafted and includes songs in three languages, seemingly thrown in because these natural performers enjoy singing as much as talking.

At the early performance under review, both seemed nervous but by the end, their stories had struck a chord with an enthusiastic audience. This Off-Broadway hit might just become a gay cult over here too. If nothing else, it is a very cheap way of spending an hour or so with a couple of shrinks!

Reviewer: Philip Fisher

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