Review: What’s Wrong With Angry?

LOTTIE UNWIN decides there’s not a lot wrong with What’s Wrong With Angry?

‘What’s Wrong With Angry?’, 11th-14th November, ADC Theatre.


What is the default position as a reviewer if you have a vested interest in a show? No, I am not a closet homosexual in a society that won’t accept me. But, one of my best mates was in it.  I turned up really willing that I would enjoy it, so writing this wouldn’t require chocolates and flowers to make up for slating her and because the posters for ‘What’s Wrong With Angry?’ had really intrigued me, pondering what actually is wrong with being angry, every time I walked past one. 

I left the evening with a spring in my step, having danced away in my seat to the feel good soundtrack.  Despite the volume, Adam Lawrence kept my attention as the suffering teacher who is in an impossible situation, with no way of saving Steven from the bullies and their taunts of ‘queer bastard’.  His monologue about gay clubs was a bit overshadowed by the scene behind him, not by any fault of his own but the sheer brilliance of the unrelenting enthusiastic dancing and some very short shorts.  James Frecknall’s performance at times totters on the verge of panto, but the script has fallen right in.  When Hutton tells Steven he heard him being called ‘queer bastard’, Stephen replies ‘I am not a bastard’ and I really did want to shout in a suitably singsong tone, ‘But he is queer’.   And I wasn’t the only one who had really relaxed.  Everyone laughed out loud, a lot, though I did wish the man behind me with the bellow of a walrus would tense up a bit.  Though certainly not highbrow wit the audience loved the word play, like the oh so clever pun on piers and peer pressure and awe-inspiring number innuendoes.  I had no idea anyone could get as much comic mileage out of references to ‘coming’, let alone that I would still be laughing at the tenth one. 

The play itself is an eye opener and it was approached bravely with some risky moments on stage.  Probably my naivety but I didn’t really understand the extent of cottaging until ‘What’s Wrong With Angry?’ spelled it out, with the 90’s tune and Jason Donovan references grounding events in the recent past.  And call me middle class, but I was a bit shocked by 14 year olds having sex in toilets every day after school was a widespread occurrence when I was learning to walk. Oscar McCarthy’s John was heart-wrenchingly brilliant, until the final scene where his vague gestures of desire were lost behind an angry dancing Steven.  As the friend who I had gone with said the end felt like GCSE drama and the cast coming on for the curtain call was the only thing that told me it had ended.

‘What’s Wrong With Angry?’ is a hilarious and revealing night at the theatre, where the music carries you smiling and thinking of the 90’s through the unbelievable convenience of the script and some difficult subject matter, laughing all the way.  It certainly lived up to my expectations and so, I am relieved to say, did Beatrice McKechnie who, as Mrs Carter, Jenny and Karen, is an up and coming talent.