In February 2017 Gary McNair presented Locker Room Talk at the Traverse Theatre in Edinburgh. The show has returned for three performances (initially two were programmed, but a third has been added to meet demand) to showcase the event again and to discuss the hard hitting topics on display. An aftershow talk is also included, for reasons that become obvious during the show.
The performance begins with director Orla O’Laughlin entering the stage and setting up the format. She puts on a set of headphones, presses play on an iPod and speaks the words of writer Gary McNair. Orla then leaves the stage and the familiar voice of Donald Trump plays over the speakers and the audience has the displeasure of hearing some of his most pathetically ignorant soundbites in regards to women and sex.
Locker Room Talk consists of four female performers (Jamie Marie Leary, Joanna Tope, Maureen Carr and Rachael Spence) who deliver the words of men who have been interviewed about women. The performers speak the words verbatim. The words are shocking alarming, disarming and filled with misogyny, homophobia and ignorant male bravado. Locker Room Talk is divided up into a variety of sections, the titles of which are projected to the back of the stage. These sections include ‘Scoring System‘, ‘Toxic Ideology‘, ‘Banter‘ and ‘If Yer Maw Heard It‘. Each section presents a range of voices that are spoken by the performers. Boys aged five and men in their 80s all express their male privilege through a series of choice statements. The show is frustrating and can be unbearable to listen to. Hearing these words out loud exposes the men and we observe the armour that they put up in order to express dominance. The need for this armour also exposes another concern, namely the increase in mental health issues and suicide within young men in particular. This armour is also the shield that men use to hide their issues and prevents them from talking about their problems. These issues are laid bare in Locker Room Talk and it is uncomfortable listening for women and men.
It is important to say that the words are not the thoughts of all men and Gary McNair admits the genesis of the show was that he felt he was living in a bubble. He knew that these sexist voices existed, but he had surrounded himself with like minded people and these misogynistic opinions were no longer part of his life.
The aftershow talk facilitated by Dr Nina Burrowes was a much needed comedown and a chance for reflection and an opportunity for the audience to come together to discuss what we have just witnessed. Locker Room Talk is an exposing show and vital viewing for all people who are interested in masculine opinions on gender.