By Meredith Jones Russell
Mancoin is a dark social satire that pokes fun at the contradictions of ‘wokeness’, and more specifically the supposedly enlightened, woke white male who harbours secret resentment for a life spent checking his own privilege.
The appropriately named Guy White is a fully signed up feminist and all-round good guy, and wants everyone to know about it. He wants more women in tech, thinks Bond should be black and has recently developed a cryptocurrency called w0ke which rewards people for socially conscious acts.
So far, so right on. But after w0ke loses investors and Guy has an argument with his girlfriend Polly, he gets blind drunk and somehow ends up creating a new currency instead. Mancoin is an overnight sensation among trolls, incels and, well, lots of men, who are the only people allowed to use it.
The concept is tight and the script even tighter. Guy tells the story almost as a monologue, but around him, with a microphone each, sit three women dressed in black. When Guy meets up with Polly, they take turns reciting her dialogue as he gives his version of what she said over the top of them. It’s a simple but ingenious device to make the point that women’s stories are so often told, and misinterpreted or reduced, by men.
It seems somehow inappropriate to single out the male performer in this piece, and indeed he cedes centre stage to the three women in the curtain call, but it genuinely is a tour de force by Hubert Burton as Guy. He nails the complex, wordy script and gives the antihero just the right balance of everyman likeability and hint of seediness to keep you constantly on edge.
Shazia Nicholls, Suzie Preece and Gabby Wong are also excellent, however. An unspoken relationship between the three women is expertly brought out; while they do not play any specific characters or have any defined connection to each other in the script, the looks between them and synchronised movements as they change the set between scenes unite them as a kind of anonymous sisterhood.
The only inconsistency is that they are sometimes used to voice male characters, such as Guy’s father and Dr Kirkland later in the piece, which undermines the neat device the play has set up to highlight the silencing of women’s voices. It’s a minor point, but it niggles slightly in an otherwise watertight script.
Wordy, provocative, extremely funny, quick and slick, Mancoin is absolutely worth investing in.
Mancoin runs through 10 February.
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