We are sat on Contact’s main stage, curtained off from the auditorium, two rows of seats around a rectangular plot, it’s intimate.  In Peter McMaster’s 27, he and Nick Anderson are clad in black and white skeleton suits, sprinkle ash, strip naked, and act out scenes from their lives to a soundtrack of those who died at 27 – Amy Winehouse, Kurt Cobain, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, and so the list goes on.  It’s intense and engaging.

In a way it is the vulnerability, the frankness that if you take risks – physical and emotional – with your life and those around you, that you may die at 27.  Few do in reality, but that’s not the point; several high profile performers have, and you could.  That’s what this show creates, a sense that by knowing you could die, you can celebrate being alive.

It’s a challenging and powerful production.  There are uncomfortable moments.  The sheer physicality is at times breathtaking, as the two bodies collide with force and abandon; in the after show discussion the two talk about breaking ribs early on.  Even ‘toned down’ it’s powerful.  Slowly the movement changes from combative to supportive as one body falls into air for the other to try to catch. All the way through it’s this mix of challenge and support, fighting and seeking connections.  Audience interaction is right on the edge of ‘safe’; you’re up close and personal with two naked bodies.

Masculinity is a complex issue that each person approaches in their unique way.  Solipcism – the idea that only the self can exist – drives the autobiographical narrative.   We may not have experienced the specific events that the two performers recount, but the thought process and the emotional responses will be all too familiar.  And why not. This show is about the thoughts that sit deep inside any man.

Photo Credit: Oliver Rudkin

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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