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UNCUT – THE PENIS MONOLOGUES (article first published : 2003-09-5)

Clinton Marius is one of Durban’s most promising and exciting writers. Durban has yet to see his Vergissmeinnicht, now titled Farm of Secrets, which played to great critical acclaim at the National Arts Festival in Grahamstown in July and featured fine performances by Clinton himself and Thomie Holtzhausen.

A clear-thinking writer who enjoys exploring and researching his topic, Clinton likes to take offbeat and unusual angles in his work and has a strong flair for dramatic presentation. His latest play is the one-man Uncut – The Penis Monologues which opened last night at the Square Space Theatre on the University of Natal Durban campus. Directed by Garth Anderson, it is performed by Clinton and played in two parts with an interval.

As you may have guessed, the piece is a response to the controversial one-woman show, The Vagina Monologues, and – apart from a foray into discussions about the vagina – the material is placed very firmly on the penis … or one-eyed trouser snake … or any other of the nicknames that come tumbling out during the show!

Through a series of sketches, Clinton takes a look at male sexuality - and what being a man means in the 21st century. Material has been adapted from and includes articles, sketches and ideas by Helen Walne, Alyn Adams, Aldo Brincat, Billy Suter, Michael Spencer, Eric Idle and Nick Doro with anonymous contributions and material gleaned off the internet.

In the main, the sketches are humorous and much fun is derived from characters such as a lecturer preaching against the act of masturbation or a white-coated medical researcher seriously pondering the question of size. Clinton’s dramatic abilities come to the fore in an item regarding enlargement surgery and, with manhood firmly “tucked away”, he becomes a rather prissy trim female in designer gear halfheartedly doing her bit at the gym.

One of the most insightful sketches deals with a young couple driving home after a party while the most enjoyable is undoubtedly the one in which he parodies My Sweet Embracable You with an inflatable doll.

Amidst the humour, he asks the relevant question – by continuing to focus on abuse to women and children, isn’t the subject being polarised? Is violence to women more important than violence to men and boys? Wouldn’t it be better to include menfolk in the debate and try to work out why abuse occurs in the first place?

There are some utterly delicious moments and Clinton puts in a consistently strong performance but the programme is too long. Most of the sketches could be considerably shortened as they over-explore their theme. Perhaps the show could be trimmed down to 70 minutes without interval, leaving people wanting more? Garth Anderson does invite members of the audience to meet after the show and present their views. No new work goes into the public arena in a perfect state and feedback is vital. Go and see what you think. But be warned – the material is very much adult and not for those who are sensitive to graphic discussion on a vital part of the male anatomy!

Presented by Copy Dog, Uncut – The Penis Monologues runs at the Square Space Theatre until September 21. Performances Tuesdays to Saturdays at 19h30, and Sundays at 18h30. Tickets R50. Booking at Computicket, call 011-340 8000 or log onto www.computicket.com Enquiries on 031 201 3739. – Caroline Smart




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