It’s a bit like the old conundrum – which came first, the chicken or the egg? Rob Becker has written a tour-de-force for Mark Little in Defending the Caveman which rattles us along at such a pace that the subversive elements as the hunter or gatherer dilemma is expounded slip in almost without us noticing. There’s a throwaway reference to Pinter, however, which rather gives the game away.
Cathy Farr’s production allows for a pair of backdrop panels to suggest cave paintings, a settee, side tables and a television set, all in rugged brown. There’s also some clever lighting. Little whisks us through history from the emergence of recognisable human-beings through to the role-shifting, gender-bending hot spots of the 20th and 21st centuries. Off-stage but ever-present is the female of the species, personified by his long-suffering wife Kath.
As we are frequently reminded, men are from Mars, women are from Venus. It suggests a conflict, but one which has the possibility of several different resolutions. Little has to carry us along through all the diversions, ambushes and skirmishes inherent in the battles of the sexes, from body language through social intercourse to the tricky areas where control of the television remote control has a deeper significance than cold feet in bed or near misses with the laundry basket. Great fun and like many such a show, one with something serious to say under the froth.