Men in the Cities

Aug 11 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  Raw passion

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15)
Thurs 31 July – Sun 24 Aug 2014

Chris Goode is angry and with good reason. In his tautly written and beautifully executed monologue at the Traverse, he examines contemporary masculinity with a searing, raw passion that wears its hurt on its sleeve.

Chris Goode in Men In Cities. Photo: Richard Davenport

Chris Goode in Men In Cities. Photo: Richard Davenport

Big boys don’t cry – but they do scream and shout, they do kill others and increasingly they do kill themselves. Suicide is the main cause of death for men between 20 -34; the male suicide rate is now 3.3 times higher than women’s..

Chris Goode’s one-man play is an episodic narrative weaving together of the stories of a variety of men, using the fallout from two violent deaths – the suicide of a young gay man and the murder of Drummer Lee Rigby in Woolwich to frame it.

Ben, a young harmed gay man is methodically counting out pills to kill himself, while Rehan, an Asian shopkeeper, opens up shop in the days after Lee Rigby’s killing. Goode parades a variety of men before us: Ben’s partner, his father, a ten year old boy exploring his sexuality through the medium of porn, an elderly man who’s confused about where he stands.

Through it all, Goode interrupts with his own authorial voice to remind us, for example: “I don’t want to write this part, and I can’t”. Pitting interior against exterior voices, homosexual intimacy against heterosexual distance, Men in the Cities sketches an often bleak but always humane picture of how we live now.

a quiet considered presence

Goode is alone on stage, mostly understated, mellifluous and moving; he has a talent for sketching character with little more than a change of tone or a small facial movement, He’s a quiet considered presence until the point where Ben’s grieving and drunken father encounters an angel among London’s Christmas shoppers.

In a raging torrent of words that comes close to becoming a secular hymn, “And my father and his father and his father”, Goode cries out in pain, for absolution, for redemption. It’s a primeval wail of despair thrown to the heavens, achingly beautiful.

This is a beautifully realised production with understated direction from Wendy Hubbard, lights that aid the character changes from Katherine Williams, and a seemingly simple set design from Naomi Dawson consisting mainly of a backdrop of assorted fans that comes into its own with a roaring intensity against the furious poem at the heart of the play.

When Chris Goode says some time after his long orchestrated rant: “Can’t we just put it down. Put it all down and really stop and let it all just be over?”, I wanted to scream back “yes, stop it it, please stop it now, let it all be over – this is too painful”. Not the play, tautly written and beautifully crafted, but the expectations and conventional ways of being a man.

Walking home through a gently evening sunlit Edinburgh, Men in the Cities won’t let go – it’s there teasing and tearing at your mind. It’s not a piece of theatre that hands out convenient answers. Before you can find the answers, you have to frame the questions; Chris Goode has started that process – it’s up to us to continue the conversations.

Runing time: 1 hour 20 mins
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED (Venue 15)
Thurs 31 July – Sun 24 Aug 2014 (not Mons)
Times vary
Tickets from:
Traverse website:
Company website:

Tags: , , , , , ,

Comments are closed.