Some time ago I met a guy who seemed so sure. He was energetic, extroverted and so completely confident. The closer we became, the more I began to realise that underneath his charms and bravado was a furious wasp’s nest of deep-seated insecurities. When we began sleeping together, this became clearer to me, evidenced in his inability to perform and his concerns with his size. After a while he broke contact, too overwhelmed in his own expectations of himself to face me, regardless of what I might have said on the matter had he been open about it.
I hope he sees The Measure of a Man.
In this one-man-show, the second in Gavin Roach’s Anxiety Trilogy, Roach openly discusses his repressed sexuality and his fears of judgment, performance standards, intimacy and the numerous, increasingly unhealthy thought processes and coping mechanisms he has used to deal with them.
In any one-person, self-produced show, there is a danger of becoming self-indulgent or cheesy. This is a hard genre to win over both the cynical critics and the wider theatre audience. Luckily, Roach is a seasoned professional in this genre and in response I’d say this is perhaps the bravest performance I’ve seen this Fringe Festival.
Roach tackles, with unashamed frankness, an issue that remains highly taboo within both the gay and straight community. A man discussing an issue with that most masculine of actions is both terrifying and uncomfortable. He recounts his experiences with doctors, lovers and friends, both the good and the bad and how they accumulated and are reflected in his actions. He discusses anxiety, depression, isolation and medication with a blend of timid proclamation and bold acceptance.
At thirty-five minutes, the show is thankfully short – I personally don’t think you can sustain one person shows much longer three quarters of an hour without your audience losing interest. The regular changes in lighting and the use of the vast, mostly empty stage is furthermore a sign of savvy direction. Roach does rely frequently on recorded voice-overs, spotlighting rejections and awkward conversations he’s experienced in the past; for later showings I would recommend employing some different voices to perform these parts – just to break up the tone of the piece a little more.
An important commentary at a time where mainstream culture is clinging to outdated and ultimately unimportant ideas of what it means to be a real man, The Measure of a Man is a welcome portrayal of fear and mental health and how it can impact a man’s sex life – and by extension how he views himself and the world around him.
The Measure of a Man is playing at the New Theatre in Newtown until the 18th of September. More information and tickets can be found at http://newtheatre.org.au/themeasure-of-a-man/
Cast: Gavin Roach
Creative Team: Gavin Roach (Writer) and Lauren Hopley (Director).