Angry, Southwark Playhouse

by guest critic Joanna Trainor

“Remember me; I sparkled.”

Philip Ridley’s ability to write about the most grotesque scenarios with the most beautiful language will never cease to amaze. The director tweeted to say he was glad I enjoyed the show, but “enjoy” never feels like the right word for Ridley. Uncomfortable, anxious, grossed out but oddly moved by the whole thing seems far more appropriate. And let’s face it, we wouldn’t want our in yer face theatre any other way.

Angry is a series of stand-alone monologues performed by Georgie Henley (HER) and Tyrone Huntley (HIM). They vary in length and topic from a minute on a literal murder on the dancefloor, to a strangely emotive extended piece on a boy with a bloodshot eye at Victoria Park.

HIM and HER alternate who delivers which piece on a show-by-show basis, and it’s fair to say that the person who goes second gets the better gig. In this version that person was Huntley. The eponymous piece, “Angry”, that opens the show is a little purposelessly shoutier than the usual Ridley. Screaming at a volume you didn’t think humans were capable of, it’s a disconcerting but ultimately not that effective. A disappointing beginning to something that finishes so spectacularly.

That something is “Air” – reminiscent of Mercury Fur; as the every-day seamlessly becomes extraordinarily awful. Huntley makes the scenario sound entirely plausible; his innocence giving rationale to a series of events that seem unfathomable.

The primal drumming, from sound designer Jim Whitcher, builds an unbearable amount of tension in your chest. Usually sitting in the round creates an atmosphere of camaraderie in the theatre but this noise, and Cassie Mitchell’s lighting, does a good job of isolating you from any other audience members in an increasingly claustrophobic environment. We are trapped with Huntley in the airless space, fighting for breath alongside him.

It’s not peak Ridley, but still makes for theatre that packs a punch.

Angry runs until 10 March.

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