mon 23/09/2019

Angry Alan, Soho Theatre review - superb monologue about the rise of 'meninism' | reviews, news & interviews

Angry Alan, Soho Theatre review - superb monologue about the rise of 'meninism'

Angry Alan, Soho Theatre review - superb monologue about the rise of 'meninism'

Penelope Skinner probes the men's rights movement

Donald Sage Mackay is Roger, a regular guy who has been radicalised by Angry AlanThe Other Richard

Penelope Skinner's monologue was a critical and audience hit at last year's Edinburgh Fringe, when its talking point found its moment. Here is Roger, a divorced father who lives in Walnut Creek and has lost his senior management job at AT&T, drifting along in middle age, when he discovers Angry Alan, his online saviour. 

Angry Alan says that all men's problems, including Roger's, are caused by the gyno-centric world we live in, and men should start fighting back, citing "meninism" as the route. And while they're at it, why not donate to the Men's Rights Movement that Angry Alan has founded? Meninism is as daft as it sounds, but Skinner sensibly doesn't go for cheap shots. Sure, she has a lot of fun at Roger's expense – “My wife had post-natal depression, which was extremely challenging … for me” – but she also makes him likeable and entirely plausible, and in this she is helped by Donald Sage Mackay's assured performance.

Roger's possible salvation could come from not one but two women

Slowly she builds the narrative as Roger tells his story from the beginning of how he got himself into the mess he's in right now. His affability hides a heap of unresolved anger at his ex-wife – the mother of his teenage son, Joe, whom he barely sees – and his forced departure from the job he loved.

Skinner, who also directs, uses what she tells us are real clips taken from the online sites that Roger has been visiting. Vile and shocking though some of the things Roger parrots are – including lines about “false” rape allegations by women – in his mouth they have the air of a puppyishly keen student eager to please his teacher. He clearly hasn't stopped to consider the import of the words.

It's easy to see then how Roger, a voracious reader but not a deep thinker, swallows whole the nonsense spouted by Angry Alan – a Rush Limbaugh/Jordan Peterson/Alex Jones composite (and possibly any number more on the alt-Right lunatic fringe) who spew their bile, unabashed and unchallenged, online.

When Roger ill-advisedly combines a camping trip with Joe with attending a live Angry Alan seminar in Cincinnati that he can barely afford, an incident occurs that causes his life to unravel. But is there a chink of light when he meets his hero – “Maybe he's a little smaller than I thought” – with some small doubt that may have entered Roger's head?

Roger's possible salvation – only hinted at – could come from not one but two women, a nice comic touch in an hour that has lots of big laughs, but also moments of great poignancy in Mackay's superb performance. Skinner doesn't judge Roger, but allows us to wonder what other dangers lurk online that radicalised this nice bloke next door.

It's easy to see how Roger swallows whole the nonsense spouted by Angry Alan

rating

Editor Rating: 
4
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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