Real Men Dream in Black and White is an intimate exploration of the growing pains of four adolescent boys on the cusp of manhood. In the absence of a tribal right of passage, when do boys become men and what even is a “real man”? Mixing movement, storytelling, posing and peacocking, these four performers open up their hearts to us in a piece which feels touchingly genuine.
Their gaucheness perfectly fits the subject matter at hand. They mumble a bit and are hesitant, but this is easily forgiven since the audience really gets a sense of the difficulties of this performance and we see more of each personality with every new revelation. In fresh-faced performances, the foursome fluctuate between cocky confidence and stuttering naïveté, seeming both wise and very young.
Addressing us straight-on with eyeballing directness, they tell us about their personal experiences: their family, being beaten up, being in love. It’s engaging and revealing but also very funny – swinging wonderfully between poignant moments of soul searching and comedy muscleman posturing.
As they manage to walk the fine line between twee and endearing, Real Men Dream in Black and White feels like a brave piece of theatre. Ultimately, they may not completely answer their own questions but it feels as though the performers and the audience have a clearer idea about what it is to be a man – and, perhaps most importantly, the kind of men that these boys will eventually be.
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