5 March 2018

Angry at Southwark Playhouse was a phenomenal evening

Philip Ridley is one of a select few playwrights for whom I have a Google Alert set up for. This is because I am keen to see everything of his that I can. So far his plays have taken me to places like Old Red Lion, The Bunker and N16 for the first time and to more familiar places too, like The Cockpit.

Southwark Playhouse is one of my favourite theatres so going to see Angry was a no-brainer and I booked it.

Then they announced a series of Q&A sessions a couple of which Philip Ridley would be at and that left me with no choice but to book for a second night, which I actually went to first. Luckily the nice people at Tramp thought of that and there were two versions of the play with the two actors alternating the parts.

Mary Stewart had the same idea but there the two roles were both women and they decided on a roll of a coin which meant that you did not know who was going to play what role. In Angry the two actors were of different genders and allocation of actors to roles was in the programme. That meant that I knew that this performance would be different from the one that I had already booked for.

I have a routine for Southward Playhouse which includes a curry at Culture Grub and then a nice walk up to the theatre. I got there in good time to buy a drink and then hang around the door to be sure of being amongst the first to get in. That plan worked well and I got what looked to be the best seat.

The stage was seat in the round (or square) with the performance area sung about a foot. The picture taken at the Q&A session shows me in the front row next to the steps.

While we waited for the show to star our ears were assaulted by All Drums Go to Hell from Two Steps From Hell. It was load and very industrial. I loved it, Shazam could not cope with all the chatter so I asked one of the crew what it was afterwards. It set the scene nicely.

The show started with people still talking, as they often do. The rule seems to be if actors are not actually talking then it's ok for the audience to talk. The two actors Tyrone Huntley and Georgia Henley entered the pit and stalked each other menacingly. Angry had started.

The music stopped and the words started. They were angry sweary words that were shouted with venom. Less a play, more a study on Tourettes. Huntley left the stage to leave the anger with Henley who directly confronted the audience with it before storing off.

Huntley returned for Okay in which he procrastinated through ever tightening and speeding circles which replaced anger with some solid humour.

Henley's second piece was Bloodshot. A somewhat dark and strange piece, i.e. typical Ridley, about teenage love. Then it was Huntley's turn for a spot of comedy in Dancing, a lament against poor security that allowed severed heads  to spoil a night out clubbing. Henley's third and final piece was just odd which, with the repetition, also marked it out as a Ridley piece. At one point she was in a spaceship being sucked into a black hole; you get the idea.

Air closed the show and lasted for about as long as all the other monologues put together, some 45 minutes. The endurance test for Huntley was increased by the nature of the story which was deeply emotional in two directions. It started as a tender love story then the helicopters came and the darkness came with them. It ended with a desperate fight for air in a sinking ship.

Air was undoubtedly the star of the show but I liked all of the monologues and the way that they gelled together.

The Q&A session that followed was a real bonus with some good questions getting some good responses. It was also good to see Terri Paddock lead the session. I knew from her Twitter feed that we had been to many of the same plays but never on the same night before.

When even that was over I just had to go and say something nice to Philip Ridley and I managed to show why they say that you should never meet your heroes as I bumbled almost incoherently. I think enough of my admiration came through and he seemed genuinely pleased and a little surprised to be approached by a fan.

Angry was a phenomenal evening for many reasons and I had it all to look forward to again four days later.

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