Is masculinity still relevant? That’s the burning question of Simon Taylor’s one man debate, a witty, cleverly crafted and stylishly delivered comedy show. Taylor presents a self exploration in a Janus-style fashion, with his opposite traits of manliness and femininity on display for the audience to laugh at and enjoy.

Taylor strides the modest stage with a naive, nervous confidence, his routine well rehearsed and audience engagement smooth. Looking dapper in a velvet jacket and bow tie, his show contains personal experiences and details about how he’s learned and grown as a man, trying to uncover and encourage masculine aspects that don’t come naturally, to earn the beard on his face, as he puts it.

Throughout the show he routinely returns to one of two chairs on the stage, to deliver an argument for the affirmative or the negative as to the relevance of masculinity. As a frame it works well, and has the kind of material that’d find a welcome home in any ‘Great Debate’. The remainder is a personal story of growth and self discovery, and he’s remarkably open and honest.

His casual approach welcomes crowd interaction, and Taylor wasn’t shy to have a chat, at one point completely (and quickly) recapping the first ten minutes for late comers, including coming out on stage again. His use of a song from Disney’s Mulan might have defeated his argument of masculinity a bit, but he seemed to be enjoying it so much it’s hard to begrudge.

It’s an intelligent and clever show, and Taylor deserves big audiences. There’s plenty of the festival left to go and see him.

1 Man Debate with Simon Taylor is on at the Trades Hall, 7pm Tues – Sat, 6pm Sun until April 21st.

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