+++ +from The New York International Fringe Theater Festival


Deborah Natsios  Cryptome

Maineland Productions
From the moment an invective-fueled, misogynistic spew presumably tapped out on a blogger's keyboard is posted to the audience in the form of a frontal, ferociously lit soliloquy, "The Boys Are Angry" begins its fearless transition from social network screed into a morality play mobilized by the conventions of live theater.

When Xander Johnson's AJ, a trolling dominatrix of online men's rights subculture, commandeers the stage apron to trebuchet the audience with viral rage and woman-hate compacted into giant blocks of concrete word clouds -- we are meant to wonder: do such words matter? Writer Jillie Mae Eddy delivers an unequivocal response while tracking the tragicomic social relations of two male twenty-something childhood friends. Her real-world metric assesses the contagion spreading through anonymous social networks embedded in the dark masculinity of the darker and darkest Internet. Under Sam Plattus' direction, the theater provides an intimately affecting laboratory for wry epidemiological research.

Stay-at-home AJ blogs from the underworld of what we are told is his noticeably absent parents' elite homestead, where childhood friend Quinn has been welcomed as a servile, rent-paying tenant. Nate Houran's Quinn is a submissive giant who begins to resist AJ's coercive efforts to sustain their bromantic home companionship. Instead, a pained, tentative Quinn goes for an old-fashioned notion of love that targets The Girl next door, that is, next door to his unspecified place of work.

Quinn's Girl (Jillie Mae Eddy) just might be hearth-and-home writ large, a neighborhood baker whose alluring morsels liberally sprinkled with confectioner's sugar may well find their way into a man's heart through his stomach. She appears on stage as a creature scripted by the two friends' colliding imaginations, cycling through multiple identities sacred and profane, performing alluring siren songs as a disembodied hallucination, her headshot projected onto a giant upstage screen.

Both men hashtag it out on top of the rotting detritus of the blogger life-cycle: virtual desire nourished by a carpet bombing of empty pizza boxes, beer bottles and rancid take-out containers -- all of which are periodically inspected for borderline-edible leftovers, until, in a moment of remedial fervor, the debris, along with splintered dreams, are swept up in a black contractor bag for disposal in some landfill's post-shelflife monument to contemporary consumption.

The production's oversized screen remains an unresolved upstage device. Occasionally, in between active projections, the blank surface is unwittingly swept by faint traces of the equipment's screen saver or logo. A more provocative montage of digital artifacts, in counterpoint with the miasma underfoot, might have helped provide a welcome scenographic link between virtual networks and traditional practices that populate theatrical space.

30 August 2015

The Boys Are Angry completed a 5-performance run at
The New York International Fringe Theater Festival
August 14-30, 2015.

featuring Xander Johnson as AJ, Nate Houran as Quinn, Jillie Mae Eddy as The Girl.

words & music by Jillie Mae Eddy
directed by Sam Plattus
produced by Maridee Slater for Maineland Productions
stage managements & dramaturgy by Jolene Noelle
production design by Lily Prentice
choreography by Sammi Katz
lighting design by Katy Atwell
press representative Lanie Zipoy
general management by Good People Management Group (Aaron Pratt, Erin Wegner Brooks, & Matthew Wright)