Philip Ridley is known for writing shocking work, and Angry is no different. Starring ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’s’ Tyrone Huntley and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’ actor Georgie Henley, it was made up of 6 genderless monologues. The monologues didn’t have anything to do with each other, except that they were obviously people, from different walks of life, getting on with life. Henley and Huntley take it in turns each night, to swap between speeches. This is an interesting concept, as it makes the audience question the issues of each story depending on which actor performed each monologue.
The staging was simple and effective, with a black box and stark white lights. The first monologue, ‘Angry’, had Henley bouncing around on stage, attacking the audience, trying to provoke a reaction. Although it was obvious that “I’m starting to get really angry now” was the intended message, there was no real explanation to why the character was so angry. It would have been easier to relate to the character if more of her story was made clear, rather than just having to endure her screams which displayed her anger.
‘Okay’ followed – the narrative of an office worker who wanted to take life’s opportunities rather than hesitating, Huntley’s bouncy and hopeful energy after the visceral and uncomfortable shouting of the previous story, was a breath of fresh air. The acting was extremely truthful and Huntley had a real warmth, making him easy to connect with. The use of repetition of the speech, whilst walking round in a circle, as the speech got faster and faster created a sense of urgency and made the audience engage with how desperate this character was to succeed.
Another monologue brought another character – in ‘Bloodshot’, a very prudish middle class girl intricately describes a bandstand and jazz band, and goes on to tell the story of her first sexual encounter; in the bushes with a guy with a blood shot eye. The vulnerability shown here by Henley, as she’s on the ground reliving this moment was breathtaking – leading the audience to question whether she did actually want this to take place, as she had to deal with the physical pain of the after math.
A great change of energy came from Huntley in ‘Dancing’, as his next character is out clubbing with his mate. Huntley brought comic relief, strutting his stuff to disco music with the colourful floor lit donning a pair of fabulous heels. He moaned about getting blood on his outfits every night out, but the reason is confusing. A gang had dumped severed heads onto the disco, apparently this is a regular occurrence. It is generally a bit unclear as to whether this was meant to be a surreal world, or whether this is a genuine every day happening.
The actors power through the different stories, using changes of physicality and accents to create interesting and nuanced characters who are easy to relate to. The setup of the theatre, in the round and in darkness, enables the audience to completely focus on the characters and their worlds without any distractions. The writing is honest and funny and felt like genuine snap shots of real people, however some of the speeches, especially ‘Air’ are confusing at times.
Angry plays at the Southwark Playhouse until 10th March. Tickets Here.