The Brisbane Festival and QUT present Emma Mary Hall in ‘Ode To Man’ and it proves a fascinating rumination on masculine ideals and their place in modern society.
Emma as writer and sole performer openly relays personal observations and stories but lets the subtext speak for itself. Performing the one woman play Emma owns the space around her, appearing relaxed as she takes the audience into her confidence.
Impressively rattling off endless amount of lines linking alternative philosophies, big words, works of art, movements of thought, published studies and pop culture she never falters. It plays as open musings or casual conversation but the deeper insights are all there in the pauses, the repeated words and the slightest hint of a knowing smile. As a new iteration of the age old battle of the sexes, Emma covers all the bases, we’re reminded how men build things, play to win, are obsessed with women and how they hurt them. How they attach identity to themselves but often fail to express anything.
Both sympathetic and a stinging rebuke it also just raises questions for further discussion.
How anybody could think this piece is hateful of men is ridiculous.
The stage design is covered in plain white canvas with minimal props; pull down projection screens and fun AV incorporating animations and pictures. Video and projection artist Lindsay Cox heightens the comedy and adds variety to what is happening on stage in a 3D space, perfectly marrying imagery to what is being said by the actor. Well-paced, the piece has a playful upbeat energy prompting many laughs while articulating deep thoughts.
In a world when gender identity is more fluid, men are less masculine and modern living requires less physical grit and knowledge. What are men and is their time up? Maybe the heartening conclusion from ‘Ode To Man’ is that if men and women cease to be clearly defined won’t that mean their humanity becomes the focus of how they define themselves?
We can only hope.