Tuesday, 21 August 2018

REVIEW: Angry Alan at Underbelly, Cowgate (Big Belly)

Fired from his unrewarding job and stuck in an ordinary life, Roger (Donald Sage Mackay) is scanning the internet for something interesting to read, when he bumps, almost accidentally, into some content published by the Men’s Rights Movement. What he reads makes sense to him and some videos, posted on YouTube by their motivational speakers, draw him into wanting to know more. Now actively reaching out to the Movement's comrades, he runs into the profile of Angry Alan, some sort of guru within the league who inspires a great change in his views.

This sudden mutation doesn't go down well with his feminist partner and, feeling misunderstood, he's even more convinced to support the cause, donating more than he can afford and hoping for special recognition from his peers. Meanwhile, his son has got something important to tell him.

The videos projected in between scenes are excerpts from genuine propagandistic material that appeared on the internet. In these, a bunch of enraged men denounce the 'oppressive gynocratic regime’ and accuse women of being the first cause of male suicide. Whilst watching, everyone in the room laughs out loud, but a chill runs down my spine. It is disturbing to think that these people really exist.

Captivating the audience with one of the best performances in this festival, Mackay is uncomfortably likeable, whilst reiterating his disconcerting message. The day I attended, he also treated the audience to a short Q&A, explaining how he collaborated with his life-partner and playwright Penelope Skinner in the development and rehearsal of the piece.

Showing how easily a vulnerable individual can become target of a charismatic orator and be quickly brainwashed, this deadpan portrayal of a rampant USA phenomenon refrains from commentary, giving space to the audience to form their own opinion. Do not expect a happy ending, though, as the conclusive message suggests that he who spreads grief receives grief in return. 

Angry Alanis one of the recipients of this year's prestigious Scotsman Fringe First Award.

Review by Marianna Meloni

Rating: ★★★★★

Seat: unreserved | Price of ticket: £14.00
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