Fringe Review: One Punch Wonder (4x4x4)
One Punch Wonder is a timely exploration of what it means to be a man, in a year which has already been defined by the impact of the murky depths of the male psyche.
As we continue to have discussions that redefine relationships between men and women, we need to talk about what is contributing to toxic masculinity. These socially-constructed attitudes say that men are expected to be violent, unemotional and sexually aggressive, and One Punch Wonder testifies to this need to redefine what it means to be a man.
The play uses the phenomenon of one punch attacks as a way of illustrating this. The result is a highly visceral play — if visceral means that gut reaction you have to seeing simulated sex on stage with an invisible girl passed around amongst the men on stage as they thrust wildly. The audience is flicked with sweat that drips from the swinging arm of one of the young men, and flinches together as it lands on the jaw of his opposition. The more sensitive scenes are handled with delicacy, and the audience can be heard to sob over the young lives lost to senseless violence.
This is ninety minutes of physical and mental exertion, as the actors leap around the stage, over and under each other. The actors — Christian Tomaszewski, Nicholas Allen, Adam Droppert and Andrew Dunstan — throw themselves into their parts, and their enthusiasm for the play and its message is evident. What’s impressive is that the four young men perform three other plays in the space of four nights — neatly explaining the '4x4x4' umbrella title of The Actors' Hub production for the Perth Fringe World Festival.
The use of extreme physicality to engage the audience in a play which is supposed to be making an argument against the need for men to engage in violence can make the brain spin. The emphasis on constant movement means that the choreography becomes a little repetitive and nonsensical, and overall, the play could be cut by some 30 minutes.
Simply put, we are free to make choices. We are not free from the consequences of these choices. So take your brother, dad or cousin's best friend to see this and start the conversation about what manhood should mean in 2018.