We don’t see or hear Alan, but we feel his presence. He hangs over the show like a cloud, a very weighty, rainy cloud. Mad Like Roar’s fringe debut follows four people and Alan. Alan is 70 and it’s his birthday! But he won’t come downstairs. There are party hats and streamers but he won’t come downstairs.
The four actors of this emerging company have devised a clean, intimate show that takes us through an old man’s deterioration. They don’t try and explain it. That’s good. The cast are so sweet and funny that we feel like they’re our friends. They’re also massive dicks sometimes, but so are we. I feel that same helplessness in their pain as I do when someone I love is hurting.
I think there’s a big theme of helplessness in this show. Alan is helpless, and so are his children. So is his dog. The moments of chorus are sometimes difficult to discern, and the meaning is difficult to make out. I’m not sure that matters too much because the emotional core of the show holds true. It digs a small hole in our hearts and when it’s over we don’t want the characters to leave, we want them to get better and be better.
The female characters in this show are wonderfully portrayed. Becca especially, played by Rachel Hosker, is a relatable, nervous, jittering woman with the same ticks as me. She struggles for a job even at minimum wage and bears much of the real weight of the play with unwavering delicacy. Daisy (Sophie Dessauer) is a fragile character whose delightful exterior only falters in moments of cathartic agony; cleaning up her father’s shit, ripping up his precious garden, and then the thing with the dog. You don’t want it to happen but you can feel that it might and when it does I am left cold and not disgusted but empathetic.
See Alan at PLEASANCE COURTYARD, 2nd-28th @ 3.30pm