I could begin with saying What’s Wrong With Angry?… What ISN’T wrong with angry? But I’m pretty sure some other reviewer will be quick off the mark to use this play on words.
The history of this play goes back quite a fair few years, but possibly it needs to stay back in the depths of history. Whilst it is written with such vigor and strength from writer/director Patrick Wilde, I can’t help to think that this revival in it’s birthplace at the Kings Head Theatre, really does fall short.
Whilst I understand that due to the nature of the venue, with it’s extremely small stage at the Kings Head, that you often have to forget about the dodgy exists and entrances, and believe in the spacial configurations, you can’t ignore the acting and casting choices here.
The cast seem too young, ironic considering the age that they are meant to be playing. A group of 16 year old, pubescent youths, searching for their understanding of sexuality, you need people to look the age, but you also need people who can gel into the role. For me, it was the older, more professionally trained actors, playing the older roles that supported this show. Notable praise for Jodyanne Richardson and Ian Houghton as the parents, who gave the show the added life it needed.
There are times when WWWA, is promising, somehow rattling up some feelings inside of me. The content is good, Patrick Wilde is certainly a good playwright, touching upon sensitive issues of homosexuality, coming out, and the laws that once were in place with Section 28. The most touching moment in the whole show comes from a monologue delivered by Christopher Birks playing the slightly confused and emotionally distressed John. We hear about his past experiences of doing gay things on a trip with his girlfriend to Brighton, without her knowing. It’s the way in which Birks approaches this dramatic scene which really gives a flare to the production. I actually momentarily felt something for him. Of course as quickly as this moment comes, it disappears once more into the depths of this fringe production.
You might have picked up that I’m stating that this show is at a fringe venue, is a fringe production and if you haven’t guessed it already, I really do think it will stay as a fringe show. No transferring like the recent shows the Kings Head has done recently with Fucking Men and Naked Boys Singing. My reasoning behind this is that the show has so much further to go. So much more development is needed. Some scenes were shoddy, and just came across as amateurish.
The excessive use of songs throughout the whole production failed to impress, or add anything to the action. If anything it seemed to be a cover up to attempt to energise the production into life. Instead, I couldn’t help but to sigh. Music should be used to compliment a piece of theatre, to provoke emotions or to completely counteract the action and cause chaos, but either way it should never be used for the sake of it.
If there was anything to praise about WWWA? it’s the message of the piece, whilst feeling like it was shouted at the audience at times, it is reflecting things that were very troublesome. Whilst the issues of homosexuality in schools can be discussed openly now, there is still the wider issue of bullying and being accepted.
Another note of praise must go to Chris Withers for his Lighting Design within the production. Given the restraints of the Kings Head, he attempted and succeeds in producing the various atmospheres and locations within the show. This is seen during the nightmare sequences where the use of cold shafts of light break apart the stage and heighten the action.
So will this show do well? Yes. And why…? Because it has such a niche target that it will surely win over the Gay Vote. Anything promoting gay issues in theatre will win praise from a gay following. I just hope that the topic matter alone won’t convince people the production is amazing, but instead see the potential that the show has. For the play itself has already had success in the past, with a world-wide tour and a film, but is it time to hang up this slightly dated production? Possibly.
What’s Wrong With Angry is showing at the Kings Head Theatre until the 16th August – booking via the Website