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Review: Square Go at 59E59

What is a square go? The Scottish schoolyard romp of the same name with answer that for you. It's a fight between two individuals, that to young boys Max (Daniel Portman) and Stevie (Gavin Jon Wright) feels like a rite of passage as one grows up. However, as Max prepares for his square go, the banter between the two boys reveals underlying insecurities and examines the way society shapes boys' ideas of masculinity.

In Theater C at 59E59, there is no suggestion, even for a second, that Square Go is not taking place in front of an audience. Max and Stevie have audience members participating in parts of their arguments, and cheering them on as Max prepares to square off against resident tough guy Danny Guthrie. And featuring creative props, hiding in gym bags that seem to be endless in how much they can hold, each fight Max and Stevie prepare for is underlined by the pulsing music of Frightened Rabbit, urging them forward as much as they audience's cheers.

The humor in Kieran Hurley and Gary McNair's play is undeniable. As the audience cheers on Max and Stevie, they also laugh as we are introduced to the world of their school, one filled with bullies, urban legends about former students, and a fairly public taunting if you accidentally call a teacher dad.

But beneath the humor and cheers as we watch Max prepare to fight, there is an underlying examination of the expectations of boys as they prepare to become men. This is evident as Max goes up against his absent father, or against Danny Guthrie, whose faces hides under a macho wrestling mask suggesting that maybe he's too scared to show it.

And though Max and Stevie may feel that they're stuck in a world where they have no choice but to become men before they realistically need to, by the end of the play they begin to wonder what the point of it all is. Suggesting that maybe, society's universal ideas of masculinity don't need to remain the way they are and that somehow they can break free from the cycle.

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