Fresh from its critically acclaimed sell-out run at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe, Penelope Skinners’ Angry Alan arrives at the Soho Theatre and he isn’t just Angry, he is scathing.
Meet Roger (Donald Sage Mackay), third assistant manager at a Safeway grocery store and utterly miserable at how his life is turning out. He is frustrated, and long gone are the days of Roger being a hot shot employee high up the pecking order at AT&T. With his life is at crisis point, Roger discovers his wife is now a feminist and doesn’t take it well. Roger is close to bursting but when he stumbles upon Angry Alan - an online activist rejecting feminism - he finally feels someone is finally speaking his language, no longer will he just accept “the fall of man” and #MeToo movement.
Through a masterfully crafted monologue by Skinner, the audience are taken on a exploration of Rogers radicalisation by Angry Alan and his online meninist movement. At the beginning of the piece we see projected a proclamation that all videos used are real videos uploaded to Youtube by members of men’s rights movement groups, which instantly strikes a chord. We are in an age where we are constantly reminded on the news of the online recruitment drive by terror groups and the devastating role social media plays in warping a person's view from the mundane to the extreme.
Skinners direction is clear and concise and the use of projection (masterfully created by Stanley Orwin-Fraser) vignettes the show intelligently into smaller well crafted anecdotes. We follow plots ranging from the breakdown of Rogers relationship to a pilgrimage to the Angry Alan conference in Cincinnati but there is one particular plot about Rogers son Joe that is utterly devastating. This particular vinyette epitomises all that is wrong with what Roger now believes to be true and it ends leaving the audience badly bruised. Donald Sage Mackay does a sterling job of telling Rogers callous stories and his skill and wit as a performer emanates.
I’m a little late to the party but Angry Alan is a ferocious and dark satirical look at the meninist movement and it is nothing short of theatrical genius. Skinner creates a deceivingly charming and, dare I say it, almost likeable character in Roger, and it’s in his charm that the real power of the one man play seeps out and unravels for us. Through Roger, Skinner highlights an array of society’s biggest headaches in that of toxic masculinity and online radicalisation. Skinner reminds us that the most despicable of people can be plucked out of a seemingly normal life and groomed to believe in absolutely abhorrent views that can have an extremely pernicious effect. We definitely don’t agree with what Angry Alan stands for, not in the slightest, but in order to combat the extremist views of people like Roger and Angry Alan, we must first open our eyes to the threat they pose.