Synopsis: Mark and Jason were keeping things casual until Jason got pregnant. But however unplanned the pregnancy was, nothing could be less expected than the chain of events it would set in motion. Robert O’Hara’s audacious, hilarious allegory envisions an uncannily familiar future – one long after women have gone extinct from centuries of mistreatment – where man’s capacity to eff everything up soars to new heights.
Director and Writer Robert O’Hara’s Mankind, premiering at Playwrights Horizons Theater, has to be one of the most exciting, eccentric plays I have ever seen. It is, literally, like the best Black Mirror Episode on Feminism. In some future dystopia, men can get pregnant, and women no longer exist. The madness of this premise opens for surprising choices and explorations into religion, abortion, and mass hysteria.
By the end of the play, my best friend looked at me and said with tears in her eyes, “Wow, we are women”. At first I laughed at what seemed to be a “ridiculously obvious” statement, but then it hit me what she meant. Amongst the futuristic, costume design of Dede M. Ayite or the wonderfully dark, yet ornate set of Clint Ramos, is a story that captures how bleak we all feel about the future, particularly if it is not female. Mankind will divide audiences in reactions according to their genders. Men will laugh, and, hopefully, grow in knowledge and empathy for women’s experiences. Meanwhile, women will laugh at the outlandish truth and cry at the tragic circumstance of having your physical health and spiritual/ political voice be controlled.
Whether it is the policies of government or pressures of society, women can often have their humanity be disappeared from acknowledgment. Thus, having women, literally, vanished from the future struck because O’hara brilliantly uses climate as the reason we have all died off. Yet, Mankind presents the “climate change” as the air, literally, becoming too toxic for women to breathe, in part, because they grew tired from always having to fight men to be seen as equals. It was like the “Goddess She” could no longer stay on earth to reclaim her power; she had to leave and get it in Heaven. It is an incredibly sad notion that is alleviated by the humor and dedication of a stellar cast.
I could watch Anson Mount as Mark and Bobby Moreno as Jason EVERYDAY! Their chemistry is perfection/ comedic gold as “two dudes” trying to defend their right to abortion, and, inadvertently, beginning a revolution/ religion over it. Meanwhile, from cult followers to tv hosts, David Ryan Smith and Ariel Shafir as nearly every other character, offer uproarious laughs. Still, what fascinates viewers is the “sex-partners”/ uncoupled relationship that convert Mark and Jason into a symbols for a problem humanity has in every aspect: us vs them. If women were gone, men would simply categorize and subjugate each other even more. Mark and Jason do not avoid having outside parties, like the government, deciding over their lives, or even having the world/ fame define them. Yet, they gain both’s attention through tragedy, which seemed so poignant to me as a woman.
As women, we often get the world’s looking eyes either through the sexualization or subordination of our bodies. These men lose their baby, or rather “cry-baby”, who was the first girl earth seen in 100 years, but before their tragedy they imprisoned and berated for not wanting to go through their pregnancy; a consequence that feels very real in The Trump Era. Yet, when they have their child and fall in love with her, the media attention enters hysteric levels to judge them for their initial reaction, but then turning them into saints for their preceding tragedy: their daughter’s death. Still, for however sad these pair of guys get, they are always willing to make a monetary deal.
It did not surpass my mind that in a world of men, no tragedy could not be “too bad” if more money could be made. Every major movement came with a monetary prompt, which felt like such a “guy thing”. Although men were dividing and managing themselves according to their bodies, as they did once with women, they never lost their eagerness to make a buck from the better or worse of society. From having to give their father’s house to the government to post bail, but still ending up in prison to asking for a “huge payday” to write the bible, money moved these men, but their bodies held them back, which can be said for women, as well. #paygap
Overall, I could discuss Robert O’Hara’s mankind for the next millennium. It is incredibly wealthy with wisdom, social commentary, and conversational sparks. O’Hara has achieved what many creatives desire: a discussion. He brings up so many points that even a Women’s Encyclopedia would say, “Damn, I missed that one!”. The fact that he, a man, has made a play with such compassion for the female gender proves that men do and can understand our wounds, the question is whether they will help us heal them?
For More Information On Mankind And To Buy Tickets Click Here. Mankind will play till January 28, 2018. The show runs 2 hours including one 15-minute intermission. Playwrights Horizons Theatre is located at: 416 West 42 StreetNew York, NY 10036