Award-winning playwright Penelope Skinner (The Village Bike, Linda) brings Angry Alan, a chilling & alarmingly realistic piece of new writing to this year’s festival. The one-man show follows Roger, a typical American divorced Father, who after being made redundant from his job, made to pay alimony to his ex-wife every month and live with his girlfriend who studies feminism, finds an online male rights activist by the name of ‘Angry Alan’, who brainwashes Roger into thinking he is oppressed by women, to the point where he is pushed to extreme beliefs and attitudes.
The videos played on a screen at the back throughout the one-hour monologue are from actual male rights activists, which adds another level of intensity but also adds to the black humour of the show. Skinner stated that the piece started as ‘an artistic response to Trump’s election’ which is easily identifiable, but presented with a new, more empathetic perspective in Angry Alan. Skinner’s writing and direction is challenging, engaging & heartbreaking as you see a character spiral out of control when he believes he is thriving. She has created a character that you can’t help but sympathise for and be fascinated by, while also portraying the toxic attitudes some men can have regarding oppression, sexuality and status.
Donald Sage Mackay plays Roger. Mackay gives an effortless and invigorating performance that I really struggle to fault. The sheer emotion and dedication he brings to the role is damn well near breathtaking, as you are taken on the rollercoaster of his emotions throughout the show, laughing with him, as well as at him, as the character he is portraying is just another power-hungry gullible man. Even when the production faced some minor lighting difficulties, the audience wouldn’t take notice for they were so transfixed by Mackay’s performance.
This is a show that is alarming and, at points, slightly terrifying, because the writer has clearly taken so much influence from the world and political climate around her. However, the way she has presented it is a unique and compelling outlook into modern masculinity. Mackay and Skinner have proven themselves to be a force to be reckoned with Angry Alan.