“Angry” at Southwark Playhouse

Courtesy of the estimable playwright Philip Ridley, these six monologues make for an inimitable night of theatre. There may well be a theme to Angry – it isn’t rage as such, since the emotions we watch and experience are legion, but what really unites each scene is startling writing and superb acting.

The monologues range in subject matter and the characters are diverse. At first, the audience is harangued and confronted by inexplicable fury. Next there’s an upbeat self-motivation speech. The language is poetic, with an ear for contemporary slogans. Both scenes urge us to “participation” – demanding responses from us with disconcerting direct addresses. But it’s Ridley’s magical imagination and skill at story telling that draws us in, taking us next into a dystopian future of bombs, riots… and severed heads on a dancefloor. From a first sexual encounter, to the memories of a character about to die – all human life is here. The imagery is vivid, the humour pitch black and the emotions visceral.

Bringing such accomplished scripts to the stage, director Max Lindsay creates an intense atmosphere from the moment an audience enters. The two actors pace around a shallow pit of a stage – the only time they are together – ready for confrontation. Lindsay has given the text the close study it deserves: every line is considered and, as a result, the performances are flawless. From near constant shouting (let’s not forget how technically difficult that is), there’s masterful comedy and emotions turning on a word. And knowing that both actors, Georgie Henley and Tyrone Huntley, learn it all and then alternate in performance, is quite simply breath-taking. It’s hard to praise this show enough.

Until 10 March 2018