In a darkened room above the Briton’s Protection in Manchester, the wallpaper looks exactly like it would in the domestic scenes that Scottee’s text creates.  To the rear, three television screens play nineties TV series (Gladiators, Baywatch, Johnny Bravo, Dad’s Army, etc) that in some way stereotype ‘maleness’.  The performer is not Scottee, but a random audience member who has volunteered to read Scottee’s text from an autocue.  At three points in the performance, Oasis songs play.  The performer may or may not sing along depending on how they feel.  As it is, our performer sings quietly, as if in his own world.

The effect is quite brilliant.  A violent, sexual and power based text is stripped of emotion, becoming a factual account of how masculinity has shaped Scottee’s youth and in turn his later years.  Events happen and without apparent emotion seem to initially lack consequence.  He evokes the pressure to be a part of the group, to conform to whatever norms exist therein.  There is at times an almost blind acceptance that this is how it has to be.

There is a strong feeling of being in the present at the time these things actually happened.  In a later scene he recounts alcohol fuelled domestic violence that appears to be at first exceptional, a one off, and then reveals that this has happened before, many times.  His actions are instinctive rather than spontaneous.  He asks whether his dad has a knife in his hand before opening the door.  There is an acceptance and a learning process.  He believes it is not anyone’s fault – that’s just how people are.

Towards the end it becomes more personal, and reminded me of Andrew McMillan’s superb poetry that often covers the same subjects.  A deeply moving piece that questions how we can change the all too often accepted norms of masculinity.  And yes, I’m listening to Oasis as I write this.

Briton’s Protection/HOME, Manchester, 28-30 Sept, part of ORBIT.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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