Alex Gwyther brings the world premiere of his new play, Ripped, to the Edinburgh Fringe and Underbelly Cowgate. This exceptionally well written and tenderly performed new play, directed by Max Lindsay is an absolute revelation in terms of writing and performance.
We follow Jack, not his real name we are told, as he attempts to reinvent himself as a ‘real man’ after he was raped by a stranger in a park. The actual rape doesn’t feature all that heavily in this play, instead Jack’s trauma is exposed in the aftermath and the relationships he tries to form.
Jack leaves behind his old friend Sam, and begins to build a friendship with Max and has mates. These are typical lads, and it’s immediately apparent that this relationship is as toxic as the form of masculinity that Jack so desperately craves. The pounding music which creeps in to the production at various points helps to build the searing tension that makes this play ripple with nervous energy.
Gwyther’s performance is nothing short of brilliance, he draws out the naïve innocence of Jack before exposing his deeper instincts. Combined with wonderfully descriptive writing, Gwyther powerfully engages his audience on a very intimate and personal level. In a scene which involves a drinking game with the lads, Gwyther manages to create a devastating and exposing cry for help that will resonate with any man who has ever tried to fit in.
Ripped is an incredible piece of theatre which pulsates with visceral storytelling. Alex Gwyther’s monologue is an energetic yet delicate thing of beauty, which takes a sledgehammer to gender stereotypes, and asks us all to look a little deeper at the way we consider what a real man to be.