REVIEW: Brief Interviews with Hideous Men @ BT, 7:30pm HT3

“You know what I think the Oxford theatre scene is desperately lacking? More male characters” mumbled No-One Ever to himself as he sat in The Missing Bean, sipping his soy flat white. Brief Interviews with Hideous Men could, of course, have been a blistering examination of modern masculinity. Instead it became, as the hour progressed, more like Brief Interviews with Hilarious Men. The sexism in the writing, which was brimming with potential to be critically confronted, was played for laughs, and rarely were the audience invited to question precisely why they were laughing. This said, there were elements of the production to be praised. All of the actors skilfully held our engagement for substantial monologues, and each possessed superb comic timing. Audience interaction was used to great effect, and I particularly liked the use of silhouettes to  portray fantasy and intense sexual scenes which would have lost their impact had we watched them directly. The Bathroom scene was poignant and touching – the minimalist set came alive with the evocative delivery and top-notch physicality. Ultimately, however, it seemed that no-one – bar the female actress who dutifully executed the role of the object where relevant – seemed to realise precisely why these men were hideous. Not because, tragically, no woman would ever love them, but because each character refused to endow women with more personhood than a fleshlight. If the piece was ever intended to critique this, far greater clarity was required. It made me and many others laugh, but left a bad taste. Facebook Event Tickets, £5/£6

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