The protagonist of Mancoin is called Guy White, which gives a good indication of the theme and tone of the show. The presentation of Guy’s story is innovative; Guy takes centre stage in a white shirt with a spotlight, while three female cast members stationed around the edges of the stage are all in black. This effectively highlights some of the issues the show raises, but also makes it become the thing it is satirising; it’s a fine line to tread and only partially succeeds here.
Mancoin embodies the zeitgeist to an almost painful degree. Guy is trying to get funding for a new crypto-currency called Woke, based on social credit. After his latest pitch is unsuccessful and his girlfriend dumps him, he accidentally creates Mancoin instead - a currency that can only be purchased, validated, used and accepted by men.
Guy narrates the story, inhabiting his own actions in each scene, but also describing what’s going on. All the other characters are voiced by the female performers, though Guy mostly speaks their lines along with them. All three women take turns to provide the lines for every character so they have no true individual identity, and Guy literally speaks over them every time they open their mouths.
Pretty much every hot button topic going is referenced at one point or another - sexism, cultural appropriation, white privilege, incel subculture, internet trolling, sexual harassment, fundamentalist religion - you name it, there’s a joke or comment about it. Public reaction to the launch of Mancoin is credibly portrayed. Some love it, some hate it, but both sides of the argument are taken to extremes in the press and online. Guy is left reeling at the consequences of what was designed as a PR stunt.
Guy is appealing as the hapless orchestrator of his own fate, and the show does a good job of presenting his dilemma. In a society where you are attacked for any tiny lapse in open-mindedness - but where you can also be heavily criticised for attempting to represent or endorse those who are unlike you - what’s a young, straight, white man to do? My main criticism is that the narrative style involves far too much telling and not nearly enough showing. Guy evokes every scene well, but is essentially working alone to present the story.
Mancoin is very deliberately a one-man-show, even though there are four cast members. It walks a tightrope between ridiculing its protagonist, and sympathising with him; equally, it highlights the marginalisation of women, while at the same time not allowing them to really take part in the show. We live in complicated times, where it can be confusing to negotiate the pitfalls of expressing your opinion, and Mancoin does a good job of showing this. I’m just not sure where it positions itself in the end - though perhaps the point is that there is no easy answer and we each have to navigate our own path the best we can. And if nothing else, it effectively demonstrates that the consequences of slipping up can be devastating.