Edinburgh Fringe 2012
A man in an empty room, being roughed over by a cop, being interrogated about a murder he doesn’t know anything about, and which has some connection to the stories that he’s been writing. So far, so Pillowman, with which this has a great deal in common, at least plot-wise.
This, however, seems deliberately quite a lot more realistic, and therefore even more disturbing. The dialogue isn’t quite as elegant and dreamy as Martin McDonagh’s The Pillowman, and that’s all to the good – our narrator (and only actor on stage for the full hour) isn’t able to fully comprehend the events that are happening to him. He isn’t quite intelligent enough to defend himself, or even to fully understand that the characters around him aren’t always that intelligent themselves.
Iain Robertson plays all the characters with such passion, rage and bravura that to call Angels a one man play, while technically accurate, gives no hint as the variety of characters we’ll meet, from a sarcastic and brutish police officer, to a cute and sexy naked film star. Make no mistake, though – this isn’t simply one actor swapping from one character to another: we are always in the company of our narrator, security guard Nick Prentice, and it’s clear that the people that he speaks about are Nick’s versions of those people. However, there’s some moments of impressive physicality, as when Robertson has a scene where he slams his own head onto a table, without recouse to a second actor. Or indeed a table. Maybe it’s late-fringe mania setting in, but it’s a testament to Robertson that my memory of watching the interrogation scenes is trying to convince me that I saw a cast of three, as opposed to a single actor.
Menace and panic litter the narrative, while deliberately nonsensical so-called clues collide with each other, and Prentice attempts to make sense of events before they overtake him. Right up until the last moment – and sometime beyond that – the audience are kept guessing as to how exactly things will play out, leading to an encroaching sense of unease that permeates the entire piece. A play about paranoia, loneliness, and erotic fiction. Not a bad way to start the day.