Review: Cardiff Theatre Fringe Festival – Many Man @ The Big Top

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Another pleasant summer’s evening spent in Cardiff, only tonight I am not going to one of the many major venues like the New Theatre, or St. David’s Hall. Tonight I am going to a small club called The Big Top.

It is a charming little cubby hole of a club tucked away above another club, 10 Feet Tall,  that can only be reached by going through said club and walking up several flights of stairs.

Once the curtain goes up we are all directed into another small room alighted with chairs and sofas at the back. And so, sitting in comfort with a cool drink in hand I sit back to enjoy Many Man, the latest production from Spilt Milk Theatre. It is a one-man play written and performed by Tobias Weatherburn. He proves himself a powerhouse of emotion as well as accents.

Weatherburn plays an unnamed, unreliable narrator who appears at the start of the play as himself. But is quickly established that he is an unstable, compulsive liar who jumps in and out of his many different personalities. Personalities that he has invented to make up for the inadequacies in his own boring life.

“Just be yourself they say. How can you be yourself when you don’t know who you are? How can you be yourself when there’s more than one of you? How can you be yourself?”

But each personality is vastly different from the last. There’s the confident, suave American; the garrulous and arrogant Scotsman; the unassuming and book-mad Welshman. Thankfully Weatherman manages each accent with wonderful gusto and perfect tone. And each personality leads life in a different manner.

Tobias Weatherburn during the performance of Many Man.

But the narrator soon discovers that since he is living a lie he cannot lead a real life for fear that any one that he becomes close to will discover the lie and will leave him. The narrator soon enough slips into a schizophrenic state where he yearns to be the real again, only his personalities have become so numerous that there is virtually nothing left of the original man.

A powerhouse of a play and a without doubt a highlight of this years Fringe Festival.

4 STARS


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