Angry Alan @ Underbelly Cowgate

What kind of person gets seduced by the men’s rights movement? Penelope Skinner’s new play delves deep into this disturbing world

Review by Jon Stapley | 14 Aug 2018

You may or may not be familiar with the men’s rights movement. People will tell you they’re just basement-dwelling teenagers (“Ignore them… don’t feed the trolls!”) but they’re actually your co-workers, your friends’ partners – if you’re really unlucky they’re your parents, or your kids.

They’re men like Roger – a guy with an ex-wife, a son and a shit job – the subject of Angry Alan, a one-man play written by Penelope Skinner and performed by Donald Sage Mackay. Drowning in alimony payments, laid off from his corporate job, Roger is miserable, adrift. When he discovers men’s-rights vlogger Angry Alan, he is relieved – someone is finally speaking to him in a language he understands.

Roger isn’t sympathetic. He’s bitter, wilfully ignorant and won’t listen to anything he doesn’t want to hear. But Skinner and Mackay avoid making him a caricature, and we care what happens to him. The moment he saves up his meagre pay to donate money to this brazen grifter, for the sake of a gold-rimmed badge with his name on, is devastatingly sad in all senses of the word.

Interspersed throughout are real clips from men’s rights YouTubers. The things they say are patently ridiculous, and the audience of good-hearted artsy liberals has a good chuckle. It’s hard not to find this frustrating. These people are not comic creations – they’re real, they’re radicalising men like Roger, they’re festering like a tumour. Shows like Angry Alan, attempting to understand how men like Roger are bewitched by them, are a good, necessary thing and there should be more of them.

Before the show, on Cowgate, I was handed a comedian’s flyer complaining that “SJWs [social justice warriors] say comedy should only punch up.” Angry Alans are everywhere. Don’t ignore them.

Angry Alan, Underbelly Cowgate (Big Belly), 2-26 Aug, £12.80-13.80

Scroll on to read more of The Skinny's 2018 Edinburgh Fringe theatre reviews; click here for a round-up of all the best reviews from this year's comedy and theatre programmes