Armour Explores Modern Masculinity

armour-blue-room-tom-jeffcote2-001-tileThe studio space at the Blue Room has been transformed into the perfect replica of a Scout Hall. A picture of the Queen adorns the wall, alongside a picture of Robert Baden Powell and an impressive display of scouting scarves.

Taking over the Scout’s weekend camping grounds is a Men’s group, getting together to talk about their problems, their thoughts and challenges. Doing that thing that men it appears hate doing. Talking about their feelings.

Group leader Neil (Mathew Kiely) is setting up, in bursts faded rocker Robbie (Ben Weirheim) who is shocked to discover the weekend getaway is coffee free. Third to arrive is young scallywag Mawkie (Danen Engelenberg) who brings news that one of the groups regular members Tanner will not be joining them. Finally a new member of the group arrives, Quentin (Joel Sammels) is a former SAS soldier, strong and mostly silent.

Four very different men, each with their own intriguing story, life experiences and unique set of challenges. As we learn more about each man’s life journey we discover that nobody is exactly who you expect them to be.

At first ‘Armour’ is a little hard to access. The characters seems closed off and at first, one dimensional. There are sudden bursts of emotion that seem to come from nowhere, but then you remember this is a play about men talking about their real selves, and it suddenly seems quite appropriate. It’s as awkward and overly positive, akin to reading a self help book.

As the show progresses the layers are stripped off and suddenly we see the challenge of many different types of men, all measuring their masculinity in different ways, trying to communicate and be understood. The final question is; can these four very different men actually connect, and respect and appreciate each other?

The four actors deliver four very finely balanced performances, each bring to life a very unique and interesting character. There are moments when their rapid fire banter is timed so perfectly. The effectiveness of long silences in undeniable.

Joel Sammels character Quentin delivers moments of well placed humour and oddity. Matthew Kiely is completely believable as slightly nerdy Neil, the pschologist leading the group. Ben Weirheim looks as if he’s been clad in denim and leather since birth and nails the psyche of faded rocker Robbie.

Most impressive is Danen Engelenberg’s portrayal of Mawkie, a character that a lot to reveal and displays unexpected intelligence and is filled with unspoken loss. Engelenberg’s performance communicated so much more than the words on the page.

Running at 90 minutes length there are moments that this play becomes stagnant and you find yourself wondering where it’s all going to end. It’s not that the story had an unsatisfactory ending – far from it, it just takes us some time to get there.

Writer / Director Tom Jeffcote might have a very successful play on his hands if the script was revised to either tighten it up, or bumped up to make the lull moments more engaging. With a creative set, admirable performance and a topic of discussion to ponder – do men really ever get honest about their feelings? This is a show worth seeing,

‘Armour’ is at The Blue Room Theatre until Saturday, May 9. For tickets head to

Graeme Watson


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