Maggie Bain is the solo performer in Manfred Karge‘s claustrophobic drama Man to Man. The story tells the plight of Ella Gericke and her journey through the horrific tragedies of World War 2. Ella’s husband tragically dies and she is forced to adopt his identity in order to survive Nazi Germany. She escapes capture and has to undertake his job in a factory whilst an intense evil is always present.
As the audience enter the theatre space, they will immediately notice the intriguing set design. A stark, dusty and lifeless bedroom is depicted on stage, however the layout presents angular walls and windows, evoking a German expressionist painting or film. The set creates a disconcerting and perplexing mood which adds to the anxiety of the story that is being depicted. The set also plays a further role in the story. The performance is a physical one, where Maggie Bain scales the walls and attempts to hide in the nooks and crannies of the set. At times the walls also become a screen where motion graphics and animation are projected. Ella Gericke’s shadow becomes a character in itself and through projected animation has a life outside of the protagonist. All these innovative effects help move the story forward and draws the audience into the bleak and tragic world in which Ella finds herself.
Maggie Bain is a fantastic performer and fully embodies the character of Ella. Her words and her physical performance makes Man to Man feel like an important and powerful show. Manfred Karge’s text has been translated by Alexandra Wood and Maggie’s delivery heightens the tension and anxiety that is infused into every word she speaks. Man to Man is a physical and visual experience that shows the horrors of war in exhilarating and thrilling ways. The show was first performed at the Traverse Theatre 30 years and is making a welcome return to the venue during a revival tour that takes in several cities in the UK.