Two years after it first appeared, in the aftermath of Donald Trump’s election, Gary McNair’s Locker Room Talk remains an indispensable piece of theatre for what has become the age of MeToo. At first glance Orla O’Loughlin’s brilliantly understated production seems simple: four female actors stand at lecterns, wearing headphones, and deliver the words about women of a huge range of men interviewed in Scotland, in all-male settings, early in 2017.
Theatre review: Locker Room Talk, Dundee Rep ****
What the four performers are hearing via their headphones, though, is a complex artifact, a tape of the voices of the original interviewees edited down from days of recordings to just 50 minutes, and designed to exclude some of the most violent and abusive remarks in order to focus the discussion on more “normal” types of all-male conversation about women, from the scorn and vitriol directed at those seen as unattractive to the ratings system that ranks women according to how drunk you would need to be before considering having sex with them.
For this tour, the voices of the men are brilliantly evoked by Gabriel Quigley, Maureen Carr, Jamie Marie Leary and Nicola Roy, who bring wit, strength and even some compassion to the necessary business of presenting this language through the voices and presence of women, rather than allowing it to continue as something that simply happens among men.
“Blaming the men won’t help,” said one audience member, following the vital post-show discussion at Dundee.
It’s difficult to know, though, who else but men can possibly take responsibility for a culture that exists, by definition, in women’s absence; and can only be ended by those men who have learned to refuse, to challenge and to resist. - Joyce McMillan
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, until 24 April; Tron Theatre, Glasgow, from 25-27 April.