REVIEW: Ode to Man | Emma Mary Hall and Prue Clark

Ode to Man

Review by Rhys Tarling

20.4.2017

Ode to Man is one woman’s (Emma Mary Hall) 14-chapter goodbye to men. She draws from a range of things – personal experience, anecdotes, biology, philosophy, art, history – to channel a black rage and disappointment at men; specifically the antiquated vestiges of masculinity that attempt to impose sense where there is none, and the kind where every social interaction is a zero-sum game of dominance or submission.

It was, at times, supremely uncomfortable, right up until a point where I wanted to look the other way. It could get skin-crawlingly unnerving, like Kanye’s inhuman screams of fear in “I Am a God” or Tetsuo‘s agonising, gory transformation from a city-sized gob of angry humanoid meat into an incandescent new universe.

I wasn’t entirely sure I liked an Ode To Man, most of all because its honesty goes for the jugular and the attempts at humour didn’t quite temper the anger as much as I suspect was intended. And yet I’ll be damned if I can recall a more creatively executed, highly indulgent, yet still focused one-person show.

There’s no real story to speak of, which Hall makes a clear point of very early on. The point is something to the effect of “Don’t find a chronology where there isn’t any.” And for a one-person show, yeah, that’s the best way to go. Maybe it’s just a personal preference, but watching someone try to be about 5 different people for 50 minutes is exhausting.

Instead, consider this a rich tapestry: part stand-up, part history lesson, part lamentation, part primal scream. It’s all made even richer by Prue Clark‘s direction, Chris Wenn‘s sound design, and Lindsay Cox‘s animation and projection, which adds quite a bit of personality to Hall’s already charismatic presence.

Ode To Man is highly ambitious, excellently executed, and fearless. My personal feelings toward it are amorphous, strange. All I know for sure is it’s still very much taking up a sizable portion of my mental real estate.

RHYS TARLING

Ode to Man runs until May 6th at The Blue Room Theatre. For tickets and more information, visit the Blue Room website here.

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