Men let off the hook by banishing blame

Defending the Caveman: Apollo Theatre London

WELCOME TO the twilight world of the heterosexual. Rob Becker's record-breaking Broadway comedy Defending the Caveman arrives with an affidavit from John Gray, author of the bestselling Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus, so you instantly know where you are. It's a cross between a self-help guide to the sex war and an amusing stand-up routine.

The best thing about it is the casting. Your tour guide is Mark Little. Best known in Britain as Joe Mangel of Neighbours fame, Little has temporarily cast aside his acting career to become a comedian. He has a hugely appealing, unusually benign anarchic quality. The show may be predicated on the idea of straight men's behaviour stemming from the prehistoric blueprint of the caveman, but as Little shambles energetically about the stage, he seems less Fred Flintstone than Yogi Bear.

He's great on puzzlement, his whole body leaping into a question mark at some impenetrable example of women's behaviour, as in, say, shopping.

Becker argues that gender divides us into different cultures, languages and customs. Far from spurning women, prehistoric man worshipped them for their magic. Men want to trap and kill while women go out gathering. Yes, we're back with the old hunter-gatherer dichotomy explaining everything about divergences between the sexes. After centuries of mutual misunderstanding, we're told, we must move on and cherish those differences.

Towards the end, even Little's engaging Australian filter cannot disguise theAmerican tone. The final section shifts into proselytising mode with more than a whiff of "the inner child".

Becker's piece is about banishing blame. That's a great way to appeal to both sexes but it also cunningly absolves men of all responsibility for the problem. Defending the Caveman may try to be even-handed in the gender agenda, but face it, it was written by a man.

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