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Defending the Caveman


Written by Rob Becker

Directed by Cathy Farr

Leicester Square Theatre

Until 5 April 2009






A review by Tim Jeeves for EXTRA! EXTRA!


I’ve never read John Gray’s book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, though suspect that if I should ever have the misfortune to be forced to read it, I would discover it to be a substantial reference point for this one man show. Performed by Mark Little (best known as Joe Mangel in late eighties’ Neighbours), the premise is that Mark has grown fed up of hearing women proclaim ‘All men are arseholes’ and wishes to explain how such accusations might have developed.

And so begins a lecture in which the differing psychologies of men and women are discussed. Apparently men are hunters and women gatherers, men negotiate and women cooperate, men sit in the toilet reading and women are more in and out.
And there certainly are little nuggets of truth that resonate throughout. And you’ll probably find there to be a lot of them if you’ve been in a relationship for more than 10 years.

But in spite of the odd wry smile the piece really grates; for the simple reason that it can only hope to deal with single-layered, dull and uninspiring gender clichés. Yes, some of what he says does apply to me, but equally some of it misses the mark by a mile. I am more likely to greet a friend that I’m very close to with a joke rather than a declaration of love, but I don’t recharge my batteries by watching TV and I certainly have enough of an imagination to picture what something looks like in my flat, even if I don’t have enough money to buy it (which is most of the time).

There was no room for the existence of homosexuality in the argument of the piece, and the equation, on the opening video, of Neanderthal cavemen with modern day indigenous people of the African continent is ill-thought through and simply stupid.
Mark Little’s skill as a performer was called into play by the rather insubstantial audience numbers on the night that I went. The first fifteen minutes brought forth polite laughter at the points where we were supposed to laugh and little else, though to his credit there was a much warmer reception to the humour by the end of the performance.

But even this felt to be in spite of the performance direction; it sat uncomfortably between theatre and stand-up – there was no room for real audience interaction – though on the odd occasion when it did come, Little very confidently related with the audience.

As you may have guessed, I was not overly impressed with the show. If this was really the Best Entertainment on stage in 2000 – as its Olivier Award suggests – then that was a poor year for theatre.

Ticket Info: £25-£35

Box Office: 0844 847 2475

Review by Tim Jeeves






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