Edinburgh Fringe

Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky discuss Man and Woman, their show-within-a-show

Image shows from L to R: Marcia Belsky, Jake Cornell. Copyright: Amir Khan

Comedy duo Marcia Belsky and Jake Cornell chat about their Edinburgh debut Man and Woman, a gender-based comedy show-within-a-show.

Jake and Marcia star as two attention starved theatre performers in this play where Jake (a man) believes he is the only one capable of solving women's issues. Marcia (a woman) on the other hand, thinks her talent is the key to ending artistic oppression for females world-wide.

We spoke to the pair about their inspiration for the show, the dynamic between them, male monologues and more.

Who do the characters Man and Woman think messed up the world, Men or Women?

The thing about the show is that both of our characters are narcissistic monsters. So, they aren't really thinking about who messed up the world. They're only thinking about how they can get the glory of fixing it.

The show overall is a parody of male-centered theatre and the way men tend to tell women's stories. In the show, we play two characters (named "Marcia" and "Jake") who want the clout of being radical and progressive artists, but the show makes it quickly very clear that they are, in fact, not profound, forward thinking, radical or... talented.

Why do they think can put it all right?

They each think they and only they can "put it all right," the issue is they keep getting in each other's way. Jake believes he is one of the greatest writers of his generation, and Marcia believes her role in this play will finally be her big break as an actress.

Jake is constantly making sure Marcia's talent doesn't overshadow his writing, even though he's claiming this play is about empowering women. As Marcia starts to realise Jake doesn't think she's an important part of the show, she begins to turn on him even though they have the rest of the play to get through.

Image shows from L to R: Jake Cornell, Marcia Belsky. Copyright: Luv Agrawal

What do the characters agree on?

They agree that the play they've written is incredible and will empower women across the theatrical world, changing storytelling as we know it. They both believe that, up until the debut of this show, storytelling about women has been admittedly bad... but this play will change that.

They both believe that theatre is deeply sacred and important, especially when it features them. At the top of the show, they believe they can work together to tell women's stories on stage, but that quickly changes. But the show must go on.

What parts of yourselves do you see in Man and Woman?

These characters are exactly who we would be if we'd been cast in every lead in our high school theatre department and had our parents pay for exclusive acting classes... And if Jake was straight.

You've written a play within a play, what films inspired that play?

The show concept came about after Jake made a TikTok parodying dramatic male monologues, which was inspired by Jake watching the trailer for Marriage Story. After that, most of the inspiration came from us sharing stories and memories from our experiences in theatre over the years, particularly the tropes towards repressed men, martyred women, and so much yelling.

Jake Cornell and Marcia Belsky: Man and Woman is at Assembly George Square (Studio 4) at 6.15pm from 3-28 August (not 17). assemblyfestival.com

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