MIDSUMMA: Measure of a Man

Review by Ghill de Rozario

Gavin Roach’s Measure of a Man is the second installment of his Anxiety Trilogy, following his previous I Can’t Say the F Word. It is currently playing at Gasworks Arts Park from February 1st – 6th.

Measure of a Man explores the rarely spoken about issue of being a man who often doesn’t enjoy sex and often experiences anxiety in the bedroom, leading to misunderstandings with partners, relationship breakdowns, and an erosion of self-worth.

What happens when you have sex for the first time and don’t experience any pleasure? Well, it’s common for women, frequently discussed between friends, and often addressed or treated by health professionals. I personally have several friends who have seen sex therapists for this very reason. But what if you’re a man, having sex for the first time with another man and don’t experience any pleasure? What if that happens the second and third time? What if it is ongoing? This is something rarely discussed, and Roach showcases why, as he monologues his experience of opening up to friends and seeking out medical help, only to be shut down and met with expressions of disgust.

The show explores the way in which society measures a man’s value, and highlights our obsession with the physical, while ignoring other important characteristics of a person’s whole being. Roache’s performance is certainly full of depth, warmth, emotional intelligence, and compassion. It is told from his experience and perception, and is an excellent eye-opener to anyone who may have found their expectations of sexual awakening slashed by disappointment and confusion.

This isolating experience is delivered with enough humour to make the performance extremely enjoyable, despite it dealing with some very serious issues and stories which may bring up troubled past experiences for some viewers. While the tale focuses purely on sexual and self-esteem issues, it leaves the audience questioning how Roach came to be in this position. Was it the experience of sexual problems that created the anxiety and self-esteem issues, or were there other social influences at play?

The performance is delivered in a small theatre space which seats only a handful of rows, and allows for an intimate experience during the 60 minute production. Audiences can expect to laugh and be moved frequently, then leave with perhaps a changed view on the male sexual experience. The candid discussion and description of sexual encounters may make some uncomfortable, however, this is just the type of audience who may benefit and learn something about social issues from Roach’s story. This is because the play opens up important discussions as much as it opens your eyes.

Overall, an excellent piece of work, which highlights Gavin Roach as an artist to watch, and has consequently made me regret not frequenting the Gasworks Arts Park more often.

When: Monday 1st – Sunday 6th February 2016 (9pm)

Where: Gasworks Art Park, Albert Park, MELBOURNE

Tickets: $20

Info: Duration 60 minutes, No interval, disability access friendly

Link: https://www.gasworks.org.au/event/the-measure-of-a-man/