Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky: Man and Woman

06/08/22

Assembly George Square Studios (Studio 4), Edinburgh

Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky play “Jake” and “Marcia”, two narcissistic actors determined to change the world. Jake’s certain he’s written a masterpiece, finally giving women the voice they’ve been denied for so long, and Marcia is thrilled she’s got the chance to showcase her skills. In an introductory speech, Jake mansplains what women need, while Marcia gamely smiles and tries to elbow her way in to the conversation. It’s very funny.

And then we get to the show-within-a-show, a histrionic tale of doomed love and misery – with lots of blood and shouting. The characters are called Man and Woman because, you know, they represent the whole of humanity. The hubris is delightfully drawn, and Jake in particular is a wonderful creation: we all know a Jake (although, thankfully, we don’t all have to work with him).

Cornell and Belsky are both effortlessly droll, and I find myself laughing a lot at the silliness and audacity of Jake’s ambition, and the way it’s always undermined by his lack of profundity. Marcia’s no feminist saviour either: she’s just paying lip-service to Jake’s professed ideals because she wants to be a star, and doesn’t realise until it’s too late just how doomed the project is.

For me, this piece works best when we’re with “Jake” and “Marcia”, so I’d like to see more of this and less of Jake’s creation, entertaining though it is.

This is an engaging and likeable show, poking fun at wannabe radicals as well as worn theatrical tropes.

3.8 stars

Susan SIngfield

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