Male of the Species
Reviewed by Brian Grehan
A brilliant trilogy of plays by Alun Owen made in the late 1960's. Each story is linked by one character, Mary MacNeil, played superbly by Anne Calder Marshall.
All three plays are introduced by the late great Sir Laurence Olivier and this is an indicator of the quality drama that ensues. In the first play,"MacNeil" Mary tries change her errant father's ways. Brilliantly portrayed by Sean Connery MacNeil is a brash master carpenter who lies his way through life.
In this drama Mary is an innocent girl who cannot see bad in people. Unfortunately for Mary her father gives her a bad impression of the male of the species. This stays with her throughout the trilogy. The character of MacNeil is a complex one. He tries to do the best for his daughter but only on his terms. Why should he tell the truth when a tissue of lies would be just as good Mary wonders?
In the second drama "Cornelius" Mary tries to bring the office lothario down a peg or two for the rest of the girls in the firm. Michael Caine takes the title role and is excellent as the Irish cockney who takes a shine to Mary. This relationship has promise as Cornelius tries to change his ways to build something with Mary but things don't seem to work out.
In the last of the trilogy "Emlyn" Mary has moved on from the office and the relationship with Cornelius to work in the legal world where she meets Emlyn again superbly played by Paul Schofield. Mary falls under the spell of this ageing flirt. Again fate deals a bad hand to the main character and Mary's lasting impression of the male of the species is again reinforced.
Alun Owen's brilliant writing does not give a very flattering portrayal of the male of the species. These late 60's dramas are excellent and highly recommended for anyone for likes great acting by brilliant actors.
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