Camden Fringe 2019: Angel at the Water Rats
Angel is the debut show of the Maenad Theatre Collective; a new, female-led ensemble dedicated to producing new work with experimental techniques. Although it delivers a passionate, heartfelt message, the play lacks the pace and complexity necessary to drive its audience to the enlightenment it hopes to awaken.
The show, inspired by Greek revenge myths and set in contemporary London, begins with a raucous house party in a small theatre, which everyone is welcome to join. In the morning, the two people who make the venue their home wake up to find the place trashed. The rabble-rousing clique who brought the gathering to them in the first place try to convince the two to leave their cloistered lives and join them on the road. Then, a girl who calls herself an angel arrives and stages another party with the aim of liberating everyone from their sheltered lives.
Playwright Natalie Graham offers a gut-wrenching view of how it feels to be 20-something years old and stuck in a day-in, day-out job just to make ends meet. While these characters might seem bored and self-possessed at first glance, they actually show a dejected reaction to a society that expects the world but offers almost nothing in the way of resources. Their words arrive in the conventional representation of young vacuity, but with a wink.
This play is Waiting for Godot meets a cult of bacchanalia. The production especially heightens the senses as the actors make full use of the cosy theatre space, inviting their audience to feel fully immersed in the action. Although the piece starts off with high energy, it loses momentum over time. Some scenes seem to go on forever with unclear use of repetition. While it recalls the tragic theatre of ancient Greece, the show’s rambling dialogue indefinitely delays its cataclysm.
Angel runs with full force, but stumbles in its conclusion. The titular messenger and her crew want to rebel against soul-sucking 9-to-5 jobs, ruthless managers and the expectation to fit the moulds of societal norms, but they deliver naive speeches. As it wraps up, the play leaves the sense of an ambiguous, unfulfilled culmination of events.
Photo: Alex Dando / Maenad Theatre
Angel is at the Water Rats from 4th until 7th August 2019. For further information or to book visit the theatre’s website here.
For further information about Camden Fringe 2019 visit the festival website here.