By Dawn Watson
Youseff is in a heap of trouble.
The same day that the London transplant arrives in England to jumpstart his new life, he is met with a series of cataclysmic missteps and mistakes. After getting his passport, money and all his possessions stolen during a cab ride, he is the unwitting catalyst in the accidental death of a skinhead.
Naturally, these events create dire consequences for him and those near. As a result, instead of the ideal life that he imagined, the Middle Eastern surgeon ends up in some sticky situations after running afoul of menacing white nationalists and a throng of liberal hypocrites. Based on these tragic experiences, it’s no surprise that along the way, “The Angry Young Man” discovers some surprising truths about the world and its views on immigration.
The timing couldn’t be more perfect for the hit show from playwright Ben Woolf, which premiered at the 2009 Edinburgh Fringe Festival and made its American stage debut in March at Urban Stages in Manhattan in collaboration with Guild Hall. Now the entire cast and crew are coming to East Hampton to stage the production, which runs from Wednesday, May 31, through June 18.
The breakneck comedy, which stars four actors playing 12 characters in 15 locations — all in an hour and 10 minutes — is equal parts Monty Python, Marx Brothers and Three Stooges, says director Stephen Hamilton. Featuring Christopher Daftsios, Rami Margron, Max Samuels and Nazli Sarpkaya, who all take turns portraying the lead as well as the other characters in the play, the standout show will surely resonate with any East Ender who has even a passing knowledge of current events. But it’s certainly not a heavy-handed serious piece that hits you over the head with politics, quickly adds the director.
“It’s something very different, think the slapstick qualities of British comedies like ‘The Goon Show’ or ‘Beyond the Fringe,’” says Mr. Hamilton. “It’s got a very strong narrative, but one that’s firmly rooted in comedy. It feels good to be able to laugh at this issue, especially as it’s one that is so serious.”
The broader comedy genre is a new one for the director, who has brought many shows to the Guild Hall stage with his producing partner Ellen Myers in the past six years, including “The Night Alive,” “All My Sons,” “RED,” “Uncle Vanya” and “The Cripple of Inishmaan.” But none have been quite like this one.
“It’s a wacky plot … like tag team wrestling at times,” he laughs. “It’s also one of the best experiences of my life, thanks to the cast, crew, and everyone involved, and their ability to join me in this honest, creative, scary and totally brand new experience.”
Ms. Myers agrees that “The Angry Young Man” is a unique adventure for she and Mr. Hamilton. And it should be for the audience as well, she adds.
“It’s definitely not a conventional night at the theater,” says the veteran producer. “But it’s delightfully well done, and provocative and fun.”
It’s a zany piece, and with a format that is reminiscent of experimental theater, the former art critic reports. That said, it’s a wild ride that’s totally rewarding. And, especially in less-than-stable times, laughter really is the best medicine, she says.
“I think we have enough political reporting that we don’t need to see it right now on the stage too. We need art,” she says. “I believe that everybody needs to laugh and likes to laugh. It’s a physical sensation that relieves tension, and just feels good. So let’s all let go for this hour or so of release.”
“The Angry Young Man” stages at Guild Hall in East Hampton, in association with Urban Stages, from Wednesday, May 31, through June 18. For tickets and additional information, visit www.guildhall.org.