During my tenure at Female Arts, I was fortunate to see many shows that eloquently tackled the inequalities and seldom-talked issues that women have to face. While these continue to be of importance, there is one facet that is seldom addressed – the other side of the equation – the influences on men’s behaviour today.
Directed by Elif Knight, and written by Rebekah Harvey and Sandy Murray, Why Not Us? follows Emily and Liam (Harvey, Murray) after they graduate from university start their respective careers in London. As good friends they are totally honest with each other, keeping each other on the straight and narrow.
Liam is able to offer a male perspective on Emily’s dates – not necessarily his own – and why the men have reacted in the way that they have. Emily’s own response to their ‘rescued by a prince’ discussion is also very funny and astute.
As clearly as Liam sees the world around him, even his idealism hits a brick wall when the advertising agency he works for shoots down his idea for a gender-neutral product, even though something similar exists on the Continent. And while Emily thinks she’s really landed on her feet with an editorial internship and asked to interview a celebrity, the offer loses its lustre when she finds out what it actually entails…
The candid friendship between Emily and Liam is one of the strongest aspects of the show, but where the show pushes the envelope are the scenes that take conventional ideas and turns them on their heads, such as the emotions men are feeling versus their ‘confident’ public face or the university lecturer who offers an alternative take on the legend of the Garden of Eden.
Asides from conveying the importance of gender equality, Why Not Us? encourages a dialogue on this issue, with the necessity for empathy and understanding on both sides – not the easiest of thing in the wider world where entrenched opnions often block progress and clarity.
© Michael Davis 2017
Why Not Us? runs at the Space Arts Centre until 22nd April 2017.
CAST: Rebekah Harvey (Emily) and Sandy Murray (Liam). Ensemble: Sara Coso, Philippa Dawson, Matt Mowatt, Simon Wan.