WHAT “Angry Young Man”
WHEN | WHERE 8 p.m. Wednesdays-Sundays through June 18 (except 7 p.m. this Saturday), John Drew Theater at Guild Hall, 158 Main St., East Hampton
TICKETS $35 (seating limited to 75); 631-324-4050, guildhall.org
If you were told that a play titled “Angry Young Man” contained the words “immigrant, “terrorist” and “skinhead,” you probably wouldn’t guess it was a farce.
The zany comedy making its American premiere in an Urban Stages coproduction with Guild Hall’s John Drew Theater transforms dark thoughts, conjured by a world where little girls are hate targets, into fall-down-laughing humor. Literally. (The cast falls down — often.) What’s more, if there’s any political undertone, it’s no more pointed than “Can’t we all get along?”
The title of British author Ben Woolf’s play, which toured the fringe festival circuit beginning with Edinburgh in 2005, is somewhat misleading. Yousef, a surgeon from an unnamed Middle Eastern country, isn’t terribly angry — despite all his travails. Moving to London to work in a hospital, Yousef lands at an airport so distant from his destination that the cab fare consumes his life savings. Stranded in Hyde Park, where ducks are his only company, he’s “rescued” by Patrick, a self-described liberal who takes him to a techno-dance club. Declining all forms of alcohol, he’s introduced to Allison, Patrick’s girlfriend. They persuade Yousef to take refuge in the English countryside. Along the way, he encounters a madman ensconced in his manor-born asylum-for-one and skinheads who insist he’s invaded their homeland to steal their jobs and women.
Eventually, he makes it back to his duck pals in London.
The trick for you, the audience, is to keep up with the hilarious confusion, directed by Stephen Hamilton at breakneck speed, deploying four actors dressed in identical double-breasted suits. At least two play Yousef, suave Max Samuels and Rami Margron. In her first-person narration, while slipping in and out of other personas, Margron makes some sense of it all. Nazli Sarpkaya, describing herself in the program as “proud immigrant,” shifts seamlessly among conniving Patrick and several other roles, while nimble Christopher Daftsios impersonates an array of animals, furnishings and transportation modes while delivering rapid-fire sound effects on the spare set (Frank Oliva) lit for comic focus (Sebastian Paczynski).
Doubling as Allison, Samuels achieves “her” plunging neckline by having his shirt and tie ripped open at each appearance. A brilliant pantomime involving all four actors in a mirrored-elevator scene brings to mind the Marx Brothers.
You may laugh yourself to tears. But remember, there’s no crying in farce.