Coming to grips with manhood in The Penis Society

Coming to grips with manhood in The Penis Society

SINGAPORE - The title of the play is enough to make anyone blush, but a female director has boldly agreed to helm, a-hem, The Penis Society.

Patricia Toh will look at the local sex scandals of the past year - from the former chiefs of civil defence and anti-narcotics charged with procuring sex for contracts, to the long parade of men in trouble for sleeping with one underage prostitute - and milk them for entertainment.

Toh, 31, says: "The play questions why men would risk bright, promising careers for these fleeting moments of passion, and why they would let a certain organ dictate how they behave. The answer may be that that's just how men are wired."

It's a charge that the play's actors are hard-pressed to dismiss. Wilson Xin, Prem John and Ryd Salleh play multiple roles in a play that combines elements of stand-up comedy, talkshows and even poetry to examine the issue of manhood and masculinity.

Xin says: "The play is unabashed in asking the question: Why do men cheat? So we're going to be unabashed in answering them. The actors might come across as blunt and in-your-face when we give you the answers, but it will be the truth as we know it."

With a script by Goh Boon Teck, The Penis Society even features a poem about the male organ, exploring its truths, myths, puzzles and paradoxes.

Xin says: "Many people assume they understand the straight male because, well, there are so many of us. We also tend to be more transparent and straight-talking. But when the sex scandals hit the headlines last year, it seemed like a good time to relook the male impulses and try to make sense of it."

Actor John adds: "There are not a lot of plays in Singapore theatre that examine the struggles and dilemmas of the straight male.

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