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Angry Young Man

Written and directed by Ben Woolf
Mahwaff Theatre Company
Trafalgar Studios (Studio 2)
(2008)

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When all they’ve got on stage is four chairs and tickets cost nearly twenty pounds, it does make you wonder why they couldn’t have afforded something more spectacular.

But then, when four grey suited actors proceed to turn these chairs into doors, garden entrances, coach-seats and use them in all sorts of ingenious ways, it’s not long before you’re laughing, delighted to be put back in touch with the sheer magic of imaginative, live performance.

Angry Young Man hits you on so many levels; sharp, dynamic directing, slick acting and wonderful writing that constantly elicits a knowing chuckle if not an outright laugh. That’s no mean feat when you’re talking immigration and left-wing liberal hypocrisy.

To be brief; all actors take it in turn to play the central character of an immigrant who naïvely gets himself in and (occasionally) out of trouble. In order that his lack of English doesn’t turn him into a farcical dim-wit, other actors narrate his inner dialogue. This is where brilliant directing comes in to play; despite this constant role swapping, there was never confusion as to who was playing what. Furthermore, every actor was so strong, so versatile, that you couldn’t single anyone out for particular praise.

I managed to corner Ben Woolf afterwards for a quick chat/interview. I was particularly interested (possibly jealous, being a fellow writer) in how he managed to hook comedy so firmly to serious issues. He said to me that perhaps his play could have been more meaty but, in actual fact, all he wanted was to give people a glimpse of what Britain was like through an immigrant’s eyes.

He actually succeeded in more than that; he did what theatre should always do; entertain and not lecture, be creative without being pretentious.

Ben Woolf is earning himself quite a name as a really interesting emerging talent. He deserves every bit of it.

Reviewer: Zia Trench