BWW REVIEW: ANGRY FAGS Is A Comedy Thriller For The Modern Age
Thursday 6th February 2020, 7:30pm, New Theatre
In an era where political leaders are more often promoting division and prejudice, ANGRY FAGS presents an amusing take on what could happen if seemingly peaceful people take matters into their own hands and were able to say "I Made It Better". Topher Payne's political black comedy which was reworked in 2019 for a 'Post Trump' world, is current and relatable even to an audience almost 15,000km away from America's conservative bible belt state of Georgia.
Central to ANGRY FAGS are Bennett Riggs (Brynn Antony) and his best friend Cooper Harlow (Lachie Pringle. Bennett is seemingly benign speechwriter for state senator Alison Haines (Meg Shooter) and is currently licking his wounds from a recent split with former boyfriend Sammy. Cooper, a party loving flamboyant man with an aversion to work and anything too intellectual, has taken Bennett in as a roommate but when he discovers that Sammy was violently assaulted after a drunken pickup in a bar, he takes the opportunity to dole out his own form of justice when he sees 'Dad Jeans', the man he believes lured Sammy into the laneway, at the local hardware store. While Cooper draws Bennett into a rabbit hole of bad decisions borne out of the State of Georgia's lack of the extension of hate crime laws to sexual orientation, Bennett's boss is fighting for her political life as the only lesbian senator in the Georgia State Senate but she has lost the media shine who now favor opposition senator Peggy Musgrove (Monique Kalmar). Bolstered by veteran journalist Deirdre Preston's (Emily Weare) support, the African American female republican is frontrunner and Haines and her team of Bennett, Kimberly (Phoebe Fuller) and Adam (Tom Wilson) are constantly on the back foot, particularly when Haines opts to downplay her connection to Sammy.
Director Mark G Nagle delivers a clear expression of Payne's work with good use of the space co-designed with Marta Rodriguez. With much of the work taking place in Cooper and Bennett's living room and Haines' offices, the difference is delineated with a simple rearrangement of the central futon sofa. The walls allow transition from normal walls to Haines media focused office where giant screens broadcast the latest news updates. Changes in flooring at the sides of the stage allow for the smaller scenes that pepper the work.
Stand out performances come from Lachie Pringle who delivers a deliciously camp Cooper and Phoebe Fuller as the office manager who wants to live vicariously through Bennett and Adam. The pitfalls of the work occur when Nagle allows the performers to overdo the expression of emotion instead of allowing the work to speak for itself and have the sentiment speak for itself. The pace is allowed to drag, often hampered by the performers selection of an extremely drawn out expression of the accent which is just as bad as the times when commitment to accent is completely lost. For a work set in the American south, engagement of a dialect coach would have been wise.
While the script could be tightened and the delivery refined, ANGRY FAGS is an amusing if not somewhat absurd comic thriller that will hopefully make people realize the need for political and societal change so that there is no longer the type of events that led to the absurd path of revenge.