Man to Man
Made in Colchester
Mercury Theatre, Colchester
Monday 7th October 2013
The latest venture from the Made in Colchester stable this week with a double bill of productions in both the main house and the Mercury Studio. With both pieces taking inspiration from the same remarkable tale, this inextricable link adds an exciting, dramatic layer to the Mercury's choice to stage them simultaneously.
Man to Man follows the life of German woman Ella Gericke, who upon her husband Max' death decides her only option for survival is to assume his identity and live her life as a man. With direct and indirect comment on what it is to be a woman in a 1930s German society dominated by men, her thought-provoking story is made all the more poignant when Hitler rises to power and the reality of war looms. Surviving against the odds through years of challenges that Ella could never have considered in the moment it took to make this utterly life changing decision, we follow this confused life for many years of conflict. The final climax at the joy and release of the fall of the Berlin Wall is juxtaposed with the turmoil of discovering the destruction of the grave of her husband, harrowingly marked with her own name.
This one woman play is performed by Tricia Kelly in what can only be described as a tour de force. Her depth of understanding of this involved text is evident, as is the strong hand of director Tilly Branson. Simply but intricately staged, changes of time and place are shown beautifully through an excellently designed lighting plot that truly makes the most of the flexible studio space.
A deeply felt, dramatically theatrical event that the Made in Colchester team are heightening through direct alignment with Brecht's The Good Person of Sichuan in the main house, which I will be visiting later this week.