New Men by Adam Lowe
Directed by Matthew Gould
starring Matt Aistrup and Richard Dipple
Sunday 17th July On The Edge 3 Day Festival @ The Templeworks
reviewed by the Arthritic Bear
The two actors finish assembling the bridge which the drama centres on, as the audience waits for the play to begin. The story explores the reunion of two brothers. Richard Dipple is the extrovert brother that has left under a cloud, Matt Aistrup the introverted brother who has stayed. One resenting the other.
We open to the sound of birdsong. Richard’s character is restless, carving his name on the bridge. He is confident and physical, using the narrow bridge like parallel bars.
Enter Matt Aistrup, hesitant, moody, a wonderfully cast contrast to his sibling. They both have a different response to the evening sky highlighting the fundamental differences in their characters.
Matt has been waiting and waiting for Richard to return. As the story unfolds we discover that Richard left behind a girl and that Matt has married her. Richard has gone on to travel the world, having a string of lovers while Matt plays the role of the dutiful husband, resenting his brothers departure from responsibility.
Matt finally manages to pierce his brothers exuberant armour when tells him of the children he has had with Richard’s former girlfriend. Underlining recurring question in the play, whether it is better to leave or stay. Richard Dipple’s speech about why his character left in the first place is one of the highlight of the whole play.
The two brothers recall their childhood, when they used to come to the bridge to play, as a refuge from a troubled childhood.
It is a history they both have very different perspectives on. It is a lovely moment as their defences come down and they act out some of these childhood games. The two brothers recall being given penknives by their grandfather, signalling their passage into manhood.
At first Matt’s character seems to have the moral high ground, but we slowly discover that both brother’s choices have had their own consequences and intrigue. The mood shifts and Matt repairs the bridge and his brother does not understand why. It is an illuminating sequence illustrating the differences between the two men.
As the play progresses we discover that Matt’s character has fallen out of love with his wife and had an affair. Richard has had a string of lovers, yet failed to find a soulmate and settle down. The brothers finally reconcile with appropriate strings played in the background. The audience clearly loved this play and it was met with hearty applause at the finish.
Anyone who is a sibling will have found much in this play. I was continually reminded of the differences between myself and my own brother. As depicted in the play my grandfather also gave me a penknife for similar reasons. New Men is a wonderfully directed character piece, with some poignant pieces of writing. The actors have been well cast and are both very well suited to their characters. In an age where men are continually questioning their roles, it is refreshing seeing those internal debates and differences depicted on the stage. I look forward to Adam Lowe’s future work.