Ask any man what type of body they would like to have, and the answer you'd get is most likely going to be something resembling Liam Hemsworth's. Or perhaps it would be the beefcake Dicky Rosenthal. Dicky is the brains (and brawn) behind the new muscle-gaining protein health shake, Manfül, and in Manfül, we are present at the launch of this drink that Dicky promises will transform us from being puny dweeb bags to real men.
Presented as part of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, Manfül is a character-comedy piece written and performed by Josh Glanc in which he explores what it means to be a 'real' man and how this can sometimes clash with remaining honest to yourself and being what makes you happy.
Glanc delivers a nuanced portrayal of Dicky where he is able to simultaneously convey his anxieties and bravado, and his gradual acceptance that he
is not the man he purports to be. Unfortunately the writing is not as
sharp as it should be and it feels like ideas and topics are touched on without being fully explored. The jokes sometimes fail to to be anything more than laughing at someone in a muscle suit and/or involving bodily fluids, which is a shame as there was strong potential for Manfül to be an intelligent commentary about modern man and masculinity.
While the final moments of the show force Dicky to face some truths about himself - and the pressures that men feel to be seen as tough, show-no-fear type of guys - the overall narrative to reaching that point makes it obvious that this is where we are going to end up and therefore there is little impact from the big reveal.
At a time when there is much discussion on what is masculine and feminine and what makes a man a 'real' man, Manfül's attempts at picking this apart seems to fall a little short. Glanc has created a great character in Dicky, and now he just needs to work on creating an equally great story for him.
Venue: ACMI, Federation Square
Season: until 23 April | Tues - Sat 8:15pm, Sun 7:15pm
Length: 55 minutes
Tickets: $25 Full | $21 Conc | $19 Tightarse Tuesday
Bookings: MICF website
* Original review appeared on Theatre Press on 8 April 2017.