Inspiring Conversations

The Truth Behind Defending The Caveman

  • SumoMe

Penny was invited by Singapore Repertory Theatre to catch Defending the Caveman. We tell you about the invaluable lessons we drew from the blast to the past.


A review by Penny K

Perhaps I’m being fastidious but very few can adequately explain the ways women and men relate to each other without falling into the clichéd trap of likening both sexes to planets in outer space or to the unlike poles on a magnet. Defending the Caveman, however, is a play that can.

Rather than reducing living, breathing, though at times somewhat irritating, men and women into planets and poles, Jenkins tells the audience the reason why we’re so different is because that’s the way it’s been for ages. Taking us back to prehistoric times, Jenkins explains that we’re different because so were the earliest cavemen and cavewomen.

Through the play, you will learn that cavemen were hunters obsessed only with one thing and one thing only – going in for the kill. Cavewomen on the other hand were gatherers who liked to see and touch things, the more the merrier. In the modern day context, this, Jenkins explains, is the reason why men are so singular in their objectives thus they’re unable to multitask and hate shopping while women love gathering information (read: gossip), love shopping (gathering goods) and can multitask. The most striking gender difference: post-argument women go on about their feelings for five hours whereas men just want to be left alone to spud out in front of the TV.

Rarely is a show that addresses the gender gap so applicable to both sexes which is why Defending the Caveman is such a rare theatrical spark. Taking jibes at both sexes, Jenkins had the audience nudging friends and partners in recognition of their own idiosyncrasies being played out to a tee by Jenkins’ genius solo act. But the truth behind why we allow our sides to be split from laughter without getting angry at any point is because more than a perfectly timed comedy, Defending the Caveman is an imitation of life.

I took this play as an invaluable lesson about life more than mere entertainment. The first step towards narrowing the gender disparity is to realise that there’s really no need to tear our hair out finding ways to do that. Why? Because the cavemen and cavewomen have always been different and therefore so are we.

Defending the Caveman teaches us that if men are arseholes then women are merely female versions of the orifice we love to hurl as an insult. If what makes men different from women makes them arseholes then what makes women different from men makes women arseholes too (No, really, this sentence makes sense)! We are all human, each taking a side of the coin. In the same vein, Venus and Mars are both Planets, North and South both poles on a magnet. It is the similarity in our difference that we ought to appreciate and embrace.

This play warns against looking at the other sex from a one-sided point of view. Through imitating the actions of men and women, Jenkins mirrors the insidiously annoying behaviours and habits of both sexes, putting them in each other’s shoes. When art mirrors life like that, it becomes an indelible truth.

At the show’s closing, Jenkins was given a standing ovation by some in the audience. Those that didn’t were probably just too shy to admit that the man was right about everything. As couples strolled out of the theatre hand in hand, head on shoulder, reeling from laughter and “we really are like that, aren’t we” recognition, I burst out of the theatre renewed in my passion for my imperfectly perfect caveman.

Penny says a big resounding thanks to SRT for the invite to watch the funniest show we’ve watched in a while.

We’d also like to thank all who participated in the contest for being such good sports and also to winners Nicholas and Patrina whom we met and said hi to! Thanks also to winner Kate, whom we didn’t get to meet but will someday soon.

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