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Anorak – Hope Theatre, London

Writer: Adam Kelly Morton

Director: Matthew Gould

Reviewer: Fran Beaton

In 1989, Marc Lepine went into the University of Montreal and gunned down 14 women. Their crime? The rise of feminism and the audacity of females to want it all.

High school and university massacres are far too frequent and always tragic. Typically, they are conducted by a socially inept, wildly intelligent man who feels he is making a political stand or protest or just wants attention.

When this happens, the media and the public develop a sort of sick interest in these people. Who are they? What in their background led them to do this? Why attack women/students/children etc.? Yet in other countries, such as in Norway when Anders Behring Breivik slaughtered 77 civilians, they do not ask these questions. They don’t want to know. They don’t want to give the perpetrator this metaphorical stage and a chance to bask in his glory because ultimately that is all he is after – recognition and attention. They would rather assume these atrocities are the work of a maniac and focus their energies on mourning the dead.

This seems a much more dignified and appropriate way of dealing with these situations, and limiting the risk of copycat attacks. So sitting in the Hope Theatre on a Friday night and listening to a ninety minute dialogue from the character of Marc Lepine (Felix Brunger) begs the question of why this piece of theatre should be staged? Brunger says from the beginning that he doesn’t want our pity. No problem there. So what does he want? What is writer Adam Kelly Morton trying to achieve by penning this piece?

While it is not to be suggested that this piece attempts to justify Lepine’s actions on account of his difficult childhood and inability to form relationships with women, there is an element of, if not justification, then excuse. No, Lepine is a maniacal, egotist sociopath and no amount of human contact or stable childhood is going to prevent people like that doing these awful deeds.

So that is the impression of Anorak throughout – unnecessary. Sure, it provokes reactions from the audience; mostly anger at having to listen to Lepine’s manifesto as though gospel, especially when he gets onto the topic of women. His feelings on feminism are so abhorrent that it makes one feel physically sick. But topics like this are not the stuff of theatre. We should not give men like this a stage.

That said, fair play to Brunger for navigating the one man show. He deals with the topic very well and is especially terrifying at the end when he addresses the women in the audience for the first time. His stare is the stuff of nightmares.

The staging is bizarre. Brunger frequently writes on the ground in chalk but as the theatre is a studio setting with no rake, it is impossible for most members of the audience to see what he’s writing.

Even if you disagree with my political opinion on the necessity of this piece, it is still too long. Ninety minutes is too long to keep an actionless show alive. Perhaps more success may come if it was a 15 minute monologue?

Runs until 26th July 2014

Writer: Adam Kelly Morton Director: Matthew Gould Reviewer: Fran Beaton In 1989, Marc Lepine went into the University of Montreal and gunned down 14 women. Their crime? The rise of feminism and the audacity of females to want it all. High school and university massacres are far too frequent and always tragic. Typically, they are conducted by a socially inept, wildly intelligent man who feels he is making a political stand or protest or just wants attention. When this happens, the media and the public develop a sort of sick interest in these people. Who are they? What in their…

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One comment

  1. Fran Beaton must have been watching a different play to me and the rest of the audience on Friday night, at the hope theatre, judging by the applause at the end.

    As for her comment about the length of the monologue I presume she is of the “5 minute soundbite generation” and cannot concentrate or appreciate anything longer.

    The whole point of the play is not to glorify his actions but to try and show how things escalated to the horrible climax and to wonder if somehow it could have been stopped or in future another atrocity avoided.

    Also it would be hard for the perpetrator to bask in any glory as he killed himself too