Angel Gear

21 October 2014 | 4:55 pm | Helen Stringer

Playwright Sven Swenson’s creation, the Nagles, are dysfunctional to an extreme degree. When long lost son Gary meets his father and half-brothers for the first time he’s thrown into a world of menace and abject violence; what follows is a descent into horror that’s as much Wolf Creek as it is psychological thriller. As psychopathic patriarch Edge demonstrates just how psychopathic he is, Gary comes to realise that he might not get out of this alive.

Angel Gear is not for the fainthearted. It’s unrelentingly violent and filled with coarse language; it’s also completely engrossing and utterly terrifying. The play comes with a raft of content-related warnings, but a glaring omission is ‘violence against women’ – which is constant throughout the play. The unending verbal beatings are brutal, graphic and verge on gratuitous. It would be unbearable if it weren’t for ‘Jayanne’ (Casey Woods) who goes blow for blow with the irredeemably horrid men she’s surrounded and trapped by. As the situation deteriorates – badly - it’s Jayanne who has the testicular fortitude to stand up to Edge; thanks to Woods’s tough and vulnerable performance, Jayanne turns out to be the moral core of the play.

Angel Gear is not for the easily offended. But as a thriller it’s highly effective. It’s wonderfully acted and despite the violence hangover you leave with, it’s great theatre, even if meaning is largely inscrutable.

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