96% of all male rape cases go unreported. Masking his trauma, Jack steps into the absurd world of modern masculinity and reinvents himself as a “real man”. This is his explosive story. How far will Jack go to fit in, whilst hoping his past never catches up with him? Written by and starring Alex Gwyther, Ripped exposes this national crisis and the pressures put on young men to live up to outdated ideals. The Fountain caught up with Alex Gwyther to discuss Ripped and the inspiration behind it.

TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, are you excited? 

Incredibly excited. I’ve been working on Ripped and Jack’s story for almost two years, so I can’t wait to share it with audiences.

TF: Ripped certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?

Two months ago, Jack was raped by a stranger in an unprovoked attack. In an attempt to mask his trauma he moves away and tries to reinvent himself as a hyper-masculine ‘real man’ and hopes his past never catches up with him. We witness Jack’s transformation and his continuous attempt to put on a brave face. It highlights the pressures put on young men to live up to outdated ideals of masculinity.

TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?

I’ve always wanted to do a play about ‘what it means to be a man’ and the absurdity of modern masculinity, particularly fragile masculinity. It was when I was touring a theatre show to 6th forms and colleges where I played a character who had been raped by another male and in the closing monologue he confesses it to the police, it was always met with laughing. In the workshops afterwards I would always ask the students “if it was a girl confessing she’d been raped would you be laughing?” They always replied with a firm NO! The reason? Because it would be a girl. That was the catalyst for me.

TF: What are your plans for your time at the Fringe? 

Network and speak to people about Ripped. I really hope Ripped will instigate important discussions around masculinity so I want to be a part of those.

TF: You have performed at the Fringe before – can you tell us about that experience?

It was my first play Our Friends, The Enemy which was also a one man show. It captured the First World War Christmas Truce through the eyes of one soldier. It was hard work but it taught me so much. Fortunately we had lovely audiences who responded so well to the piece and even had a couple of sold out shows too.

TF: Are there any tips or “musts” you would offer to first-time Fringe performers? 

1.) Remember why you’re there. It’s very easy to get lost in the humdrum and buzz of it all. 2.) Network. Network. Network. 3.) Look after your voice and body and mind. 4.) It’s a journey of ups and downs so understand and accept that. 5.) Don’t let reviews affect your performance, whether they’re good or bad. Just do the best show you can do. 6.) Take each day as it comes!

TF: Is there anything you are keen to see whilst in Edinburgh this time?

To be honest I haven’t look at the programme yet. I’m too busy focusing on Ripped.

TF: And what are your future plans beyond Ripped?  

To share the story with as many people as possible, so whatever avenue that is, then let’s do it.

You can see Ripped in Underbelly, Cowgate until 25th August at 13:00. For tickets, go to https://tickets.edfringe.com/