The Men Commandments
Quick Change Theatre, Manchester, England
Venue 4, St. James Basement
Today, Friday, Saturday
In The Men Commandments, two sharp twenty-something women, Rebecca and Maggie, discuss the ups and downs of single life and establish a modern-day set of rules a woman must follow in order to maintain a successful relationship.
This last-minute addition to the Fringe line-up marks the third playwriting effort from the talented and witty Sarah Quick. She has produced another winning play, complete with charming characters and amusing dialogue. Sunday evening’s opening performance also proved she is as dynamic on the stage as she is with a pen.
Quick dazzled with her portrayal of Rebecca, a single girl who, much to her initial dismay, finds herself in the uncharted territory of a happy relationship. The blonde-haired, bright-faced actor was absolutely realistic as the confused, yet confident young woman. It was impossible not to be charmed by her keen sense of comedic timing, brilliant smile and effervescent stage presence.
Irish performer Ruth Dennison was equally as captivating in her characterization of Maggie, Rebecca’s sarcastic and happily single best friend. While a little more sharp-tongues and bitter than the Rebecca character, Dennison’s version of Maggie was still loveable and funny. Her descriptions of previous “relationship” and her impressions of the comments people make when they discover she is single were highlights of her performance.
While Quick and Dennison worked hard to show the personalities of their individual characters, their chemistry on stage is what truly gave the show its sparkle. Working in tandem like a polished comedy team that has been together for years, the actors demonstrated how well a play can work when the performers and the characters match.
Quick’s writing is funny and clever. The jokes, while often sexual and sometimes at the expense of men, were fresh and relevant to anyone who has been or ever wants to be in a relationship. Her rhyming stanzas, which identify the 10 relationship commandments for the audience, were sharp and witty. It sure wasn’t vacation Bible school, but learning The Men Commandments was a thoroughly enjoyable and memorable experience.
BBC.co.uk - LIVERPOOL THEATRE, Liverpool UK
The Men Commandments
Venue: Unity Theatre
If Cosmo’s commandments to keep your man fill you with a sense of fear, dread and an over-riding urge to consume several thousand calories (v v sensible...) then The Men Commandments could be your new rule book.
A one act, two woman play written and performed by Quick Change Theatre – it gives you relationship advice from a single-o-phile and her still single friend.
The action takes place in the Rainbow Insurance company – specialising in parable claims and other places within the lives of Maggie (Ruth Dennison) & Becky (Sarah Quick) as Becky ends up in, oh no, God forbid … A relationship!
The hilarious repartee and one liners make you feel as though you’re watching a comedy show – or just managing to have one of those really funny conversations you dream of having with your friends before a night out. In fact the ones you think you’re having a after glass of wine number 5.
There are a number of religious references, and the burning bush maintains its preference for cameo roles with a small walk on part.
In fact actually, much of the commandments for coping with life in a relationship are funny and actually quite useful (apparently…) it’s these religious comments that had me in stitches.
There was Mary – wanting holiday compensation – well she was moved around, double booked and finally ended up in a room no better than a shed.
Mr Jone, er who was stranded in Wales.
And of course Joseph whose coat of many colours was lost. And no there was no predominating colour…
This is 60 minutes of fun, frolics and laughter. It’s not serious and it will make you laugh. It will even make you think a bit, if you want to…
Laughing at love and life
THE MEN COMMANDMENTS: 4 Suns out of 5
As a playwright, Sarah Quick seems to be setting about to deconstruct male-female relationship in 60-minute bites.
In her deft and comic series of Fringe works – Thanks for the Mammaries and Sex and Sensibility – she has demonstrated a discerning eye fro the mechanics of the sexual dance and a canny ear for the way people talk.
Put that together with a wicked sense of humour and you have The Men Commandments, a short, persuasive slice-of-life comedy that finds its humour as much in keep observations of the lives of ordinary, working-class women as it does in its snappy one-liners.
Rebecca (Quick) and Maggie (Ruth Dennison) are phone receptionists at a large British insurance company. Between chirpy “Good Morning, Rainbow Insurance” interruptions, the two long-time friends banter in the easy manner of those who have spent a lifetime telling each other their most intimate secrets.
Rebecca has shied away from commitment but one Monday morning she admits that she is having a fling. When it turns out the two met as mates, went home together – they’ve had sex and she’s met his parents, Maggie points out the obvious, “You’re in a relationship.”
“I feel like I’m in some cheesy romantic comedy and I don’t have a script,” wails Rebecca. “Me in a relationship. I’m going to be sick.”
The entire affair is laid out in adroit strokes and, through the laughter, two very real and ingratiating characters take shape. She learns how to accommodate his obsession with soccer. How to become one of the boys and when to lay low and give him time with his mates. She reacts with bemused patience to family pressures to get married. She learns, in fact, the “men commandments” while still maintaining her sense of humour and self.
The two performers display quite remarkable chemistry as if, indeed, they had spent much of their lives as close friends.
This is an entertainment that bubbles with laughter and good humour while still managing to explore such worthy topics as the nature of friendship, love, loneliness, maturity and commitment.
Oh, and did I mention lavish dollops of sex?
HOUR MAGAZINE, Montreal
Quick Change Theatre from Manchester, England, which brought us the utterly charming Thanks for the Mammaries (also by Sarah Quick) last year is back and the offering, this time out, is tastier, bawdier and quite, quite hilarious. There are a few jokes in this play that plow into the audience because they are raunchy, smart and, best of all, surprising. Most surprising because they are organic; you really do get the sense that the two characters are as swift as this and up to the banter they share in their friendship. Everyone takes it in the neck – Anne Robinson (The Weakest Link), Bridget Jones, women’s mags – as these two young women – one in a relationship, one not – discuss, debate and bicker about men and romance. By and large, the text is faultless; even the doggerel that passes for “The Men Commandments” is riotously funny and this, too, feels likes real game two smart women would play. And it is two smart women who play them: Quick herself and Ruth Dennison, a perfect partner. You’ll have a ball.
CALGARY INTERNATIONAL FRINGE FESTIVAL
THE MEN COMMANDMENTS
By Sarah Quick
Quick Change Theatre
Comedy – Minors Not Allowed
This is another veteran Fringe show and the capacity crowd is treated to a polished comedy. Rebecca (Sarah Quick) and Maggie (Ruth Dennison) are two young Brits with considerable experience and insight on the slippery business of “relationship”. They offer their wisdom in the form of Commandments about how to handle men. Working by day as receptionists at the Rainbow Insurance company, at night they suffer through meat market pubs, awkward dates and fumbling one night stands. To her surprise Rebecca gradually falls into a “relationship” where she faces her guy’s sports addiction, their first fight and the pleasures of make-up sex, as well as the dreaded meeting the parents. Her tough pal Maggie is always able to dig out Rebecca’s true feelings, revealing her misgivings when things appear to be gong well and pointing out her good fortune when she begins whining. It’s a funny and vulgar trip through the doldrums of single life to the Holy Grail of a relationship. As Tammy Wynette said, sometimes it’s hard to be a woman.
FRINGE REVIEWS - -Joe Carney UNFM
The Men Commandments (Seen Friday July 20)
This is a 2 actor show from the same writer of past Fringe pleasures “Thanks for the Mammaries” and “Sex and Sensibility”. The premise is what happens when a committed single person discovers they are in a relationship. It is presented as a series of scenes on the development of a relationship revealed as dialogue between friends with an alternating narrative on the “Men Commandments” in the form of rhyme. The men commandments are what the female member of the relationship needs to do to keep the male in the relationship (e.g. don’t bruise the male ego). This is *superlative adjective* acted, written and presented. One of the frustrations of a Fringe show is when dialogue is flubbed. The two actors in this show did not once miss a cue, flub a lie or miss a mark. And this is a dialogue intensive show. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and I am certain any couples seeing it will have lots to discuss over drinks afterwards. Definitely easy to recommend this show, it is funny, insightful, and the acting is *superlative adjective*. Go see this show (and the inside of Eatons for the last time).
NEWS LEADER (WEDNESDAY, SPETEMBER 25, 2002)
Men Commandments reality coated comedy
Review: British pair cleverly explore the thicket of relationships
Pros and cons of relationship commitment were comically questioned during Friday nights’ Big Top Fringe play The Men Commandments.
Actresses Ruth Dennison and Sarah Quick played phone clerks Maggie and Rebecca who gossiped about dates, boyfriends, parties, sex, sports and the female condition during their fast-paced show.
But the two British artists cleverly layered their routine with the reality of relationships – the daily ennui that can erode attraction and spark boredom and breakup.
Using jaunty limericks and ping-pong dialogue, the two single birds trashed glossy glamour purveyed in fashion magazines by offering situations most of the crowds seemed to relate to.
A scene where they’re hit on by pub drunks was priceless.
In short, Dennison and Quick ask us to consider why they want to be in relationships despite a thicket of prickly situations and feelings.
Reality coated in comedy makes sensibility all the more palatable and that’s theatre’s true role.
Fringe rating: 8.5 out of 10.
The Men Commandments
The Men Commandments is about what happens when contented single Rebecca (Sarah Quick) finds a boyfriend. The funniest bits, though, are about how single women of a certain age are not believed when they say they are happy on their own. (During a series of quick toss-offs on this theme, Quick mimes opening a card and reads, sing-song, “A card for you to simply say, you found a man, hip hip, hooray!”) She and fellow performer Ruth Dennison spoon out the down-to-earth advice with smiles – “be keen on his hobbies” and “even if he does, don’t criticise his parents” – but the gals seemed a little weary, or perhaps they were just out late the night before conducting research. Still, a giggle or two can be had.
EDMONTON JOURNAL, Edmonton
The Men Commandments
Stage 10 (Yardbird Suite)
Maggie and Rebecca, two young women who are navigating through the stormy waters of boyfriends, relationships, sex and commitment, make Bridget Jones look like a poster girl for clean living.
They’re also as funny, although a lot more gritty. Maggie and Rebecca are unfailingly honest.
To them the 27 units of alcohol consumed by Bridget over the course of a week is basically a quiet night in, thank you very much.
Ruth Dennison and Fringe veteran Sarah Quick are respectively Maggie and Rebecca. Quick, who wrote this tow-person play, has appeared here before in her crowd-pleasing productions of Sex and Sensibility and Thanks for the Mammaries.
This play explores similar themes and with the same closely-observed humour to give it a special punch.
Her Rebecca has just begun a relationship which she hopes, just maybe, might lead to the “c” word.
Commitment, and all that it means.
There is the sex part, which is good, and all the other parts, which might not be so good. For example, there’s the meeting-his-parents part, and the going-to-football part.
Accompanying Maggie is Rebecca, her workmate and a young woman who is playing the field with youthful exuberance.
The two make for a team that’s funny and, just as importantly, genuine.
Quick’s play is written with hip charm as she outlines the rules which govern modern relationships between men and women.
It’s a guide, too, that just might work.