A Wales Millennium Centre production
By Manfred Karge
Directed by Bruce Guthrie & Scott Graham
Performed By Maggie Bain
25th – 28th October 2017
Reviewed by Finvola Dunphy
Photograph by Polly Thomas
Manfred Karge’s ‘Man to Man’ is a striking story of a woman named Ella forced to take on her husband’s identity in order to survive Nazi Germany.
The astonishing one-woman performance, played by Maggie Bain, left no desire to fill the stage with other characters. Her physicalisation, movement and use of accents allowed her to embody multiple personalities.
‘Man to Man’ was a superb showcase of theatre technology blended with magician-like stunts and complemented by first-class acting.
This visually exceptional production made every use of set-design, lighting and sound. The distorted backdrop cleverly represented Ella’s claustrophobic existence.
The fear of discovery is comparable to that of Anne Frank. In fact, the abrupt ending of the play, when mental trauma had truly manifested itself, is akin to Frank’s last diary entry.
Bain’s succinct and sharp movements were displayed in every way imaginable. From scaling the wall of the set and shifting a bed across the stage to changing physical stance in order to portray characters of varying ages and genders.
The responsibility that Bain was given as an actress; moving the set, repositioning the stage and performing masterful stunts, mirrored the responsibility that Ella faced when she made the grave decision to adopt her husband’s identity.
Her seamless transitions from one accent to another was a stunning portrayal of a diminishing or compromised mental health.
To execute all of this so successfully whilst maintaining such a strength of conviction, portraying such versatility, execution of plot and an unwavering depth of character is truly commendable.
‘Man to Man’ exhibited a blending between cold-hearted pragmatism and mental trauma. It showed all the strains of the human brain and portrayed it’s capacity when full and unable to cope.
Overall, it was an inspired depiction of the harsh realities of living in Nazi Germany.