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Review: ‘Angry Young Man’ – A Zany Yet Serious Satire

By Miles Harter, Contributing Writer, March 24, 2017

Angry Young Man, by accomplished British playwright and director, Ben Woolf, is a satire that explores varying and complicated attitudes towards immigration. The imaginative and slapstick play was critically acclaimed in London and Australia, and in its U.S. debut, the slick comedy is now being produced by Urban Stages.

The play focuses on Yusuf, a doctor whose native tongue is Arabic (his home country is not identified) arriving in London to take on a new medical position.  He explains that he landed at Stansted, notoriously inaccessible to London as it is actually 40 miles from northeast London. In one of the funniest lines in the play, a bemused Yusuf complains, “The British conjunction of the words ‘London’ and ‘Stansted’ is a malicious hoax of which I was sadly innocent.” He is forced to take a very expensive taxi ride to London, and the exorbitant fee leaves him bewildered and destitute; he remains bewildered throughout the play as he meets Londoners of varied political stripes and stereotypes. Through Yusuf’s difficult and hilarious encounters with other characters, we learn some uncomfortable truths about how people can view immigration.

The show has an ensemble cast of four actors, frequently and ingeniously switching, roles, genders, accents, and even assuming the disparate aspects of a personality. At the outset, we learn that the play centers around Yusuf, and that all four actors will play Yusuf at different times. Fortunately, because of the adept performances and excellent direction by Stephen Hamilton, it takes us only a few moments to understand who is playing what character at any given time. In an entertaining and inclusive twist, the actors have unique backgrounds: a first generation Greek actor (Christopher Daftsios), a Turkish actress here on an artist visa (Nazli Sarpkaya), an actress of Haitian descent (Rami Margron), and an actor of Jewish heritage (Max Samuels).

Besides the sharp and inventive script, the chief reason that the show works so well is that the cast works so well together. The actors’ athletic and graceful movements are expertly choreographed and coordinated. The relatively short show (75 minutes) moves quickly because of the dynamic performances of all four cast members.

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Angry Young Man, presented by Urban Stages in association with John Drew Theater, Guild Hall (East Hampton), through Sunday, April 9, 2017. By Ben Woolf. Directed by Stephen Hamilton; scenic design by Frank J. Oliva; lighting design by Sebastian Paczynski; costume design by Yuka Silvera; sound design by David M. Dawson. Cast: Christopher Daftsios, Rami Margron, Max Samuels, and Nazli Sarpkaya.

 

Cover: (l. to r.) Christopher Daftsios (in front), Nazli Sarpkaya, Rami Margron and Max Samuels in ‘Angry Young Man;’ photo: David Rodgers.


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