‘No Girlz Allowed’ read the sign on James’s tree house when he was a boy.
The Spider Glass, theSpace Triplex (Venue 38) ***
There’s nothing girls dislike more than bad grammar, he explains, now that he is a 35-year-old man, sorting through boxes of old stuff from his childhood.
In Craig Malpass’s poetically written, rhythmically narrated one-man monologue, this disdain for girls, and then women, is an underlying theme. We follow James from boyhood, through the 1990s lad culture years, to the proliferation of online porn as the play connects men’s magazines, some of which may now seem rather quaint, to more disturbing imagery.
The journey of a young man who increasingly dehumanises women is potentially fascinating, but one that the play could do more to explore, particularly since James otherwise describes himself as “funny, a nice guy”, rescuing spiders for his mum. Is he, the media or something else responsible for his violent sexual fantasies? We never really get an answer. Instead the focus shifts to his relationship with his father, which, while nicely done, feels a bit of a distraction.
At the end of the show, Malpass explains that the piece is intended to start a conversation, which is great – but the writing itself would also benefit from more directly engaging with the fascinating issues it sets up.
• Until 25 August, 1:35pm