Saturday, August 22, 2015

Review: The Ballad of Good Guys and Bad Guys

Men. Some are misogynistic pigs while others are charming princes. But when it comes to wooing women, which is worse? The Boys Are Angry by Jillie Mae Eddy is a dark comedy about AJ and Quinn, a pair of guys with two drastically views on women, and life, who engage in attempting to get Quinn the Girl. What results is an unexpected turn of events where the nice guy does finish last. Way last. Eddy starts with a bang. A big bang. Quinn delivers a monologue that goes beyond shock. It results in wild eyes and verbal reactions from the audience. What proceeds is bro talk where we see the two sides of men. In the real realm of the play, Quinn meets a beignet baker who he falls for. AJ, in his obvious bad mindset, tries to get the Girl to fall for Quinn but ends up ruining everything. Quinn tries to win her heart through songs and love letters but his acts of love go too far and reach the point if obsession. Eddy's textual thesis is quite fascinating. But it's also bound to turn people off. With the shock of the ideas as the big draw, Eddy introduces some devices that cause some structural issues. First and foremost is the use of the Girl. Eddy portrays the character who seems to only exist in the scenes just to have more of a presence in the play. Director Sam Plattus has AJ and Wuinn interact in a balletic tone as if she's not even there. And it's a bit awkward. Sure, it would be less interesting to not have her but at the same time it doesn't feel justified. Additionally, the use of music is strange. Out of nowhere, Quinn becomes a songwriter and we watch him create an original song written by Eddy. And it's not character driven whatsoever. If integral, it could easily be condensed to still offer the same narrative. With the use of music, the projection with The Girl's face singing the song didn't seem to have barring on the story. Don't get me wrong, Eddy is s wonderful songwriter, the moments didn't elevate the script, especially when there was zero transition music, a place Eddy could have inserted her music.
The trio of actors had quite an interesting dynamic. Xander Johnson as AJ does a phenomenal job at turning the audience against him. Usually that would be the worst thing for an actor to hear but he nailed the character. He was sleazy and gross and you couldn't have it any other way. As Quinn, Nate Houran evoked the All-American boy. But he was a bit stale. With a foil as brazen as Johnson's AJ, Houran looked lost next to him. Jillie Mae Eddy offered an interesting performance. As the rag doll, Eddy felt oddly placed. But when she became the object of affection, she lit up. She was strong and confident and was a beautiful voice for her play's message.
Crafting a vocabulary based on Eddy's script poised questions to arise for Plattus. “Why” being the big one. When it came to the individual character work, Plattus did a strong job shaping the actors. But those magic moments lacked purpose. Fringe is a place where the pieces are likely to not be fully realized. That being said, furniture pieces should still reflect the aura of the world. The conglomeration of items by production designer Lily Prentice didn't truly feel like leftover items as I doubt AJ's parents would decorate as such.
The Boys Are Angry has some strong moments within but in the end, it truly doesn't know what it wants to be. Eddy could benefit from taking a step back and seeing the work as it is now to see if this is the proper story to be told.