by Melanie N. Lee · August 16, 2015
The Boys Are Angry—yes, they are! Stripped of powers and privileges of a once-androcentric world, they flounder through the online “Manosphere” in search of brothers who lament the demise of male sovereignty. It’s all the bitches’ fault, of course. Or maybe it’s men’s own fault, the character AJ observes, for allowing women to choose their own mates.
The play, written by Jillie Mae Eddy and directed by Sam Plattus, features three twentysomethings: AJ, inheritor of a once-proud family mansion now littered with pizza boxes and beer bottles; Quinn, his roommate, tenant, and best friend, who daily plods away at his job as a software programmer; and The Girl—yes, The Girl—owner of a new nearby bakery, whose image beautifies Quinn’s romantic episodes and darkens AJ’s cynical scenarios.
Occupying only 1,000 square feet of his 10,000 square foot home, blogger AJ recites his manifesto, blaming woman for “breaking up the f***ing Beatles” and demanding that men everywhere “pull her off the pedestal, stand on the pedestal yourself, and make her suck your d***!” Quinn, his best friend since childhood, arrives home toting a red box full of beignets (donuts). As Quinn rapturously describes the Bakery Girl—“She’s perfect!”—she appears before us, displaying her smile and her half-giggle, but never speaking. AJ, warning Quinn against evil womankind, yanks The Girl away. As AJ proclaims his second manifesto, “Ten Reasons Why a Woman Won’t Sleep with You”, we see Quinn and The Girl playing, caressing, falling in love, and “taking it slow”, as Quinn explains.
“Femininity is a gift,” AJ asserts, meaning the submission, love, self-sacrifice, and softness that women have abandoned. “If you could educate her yourself, but not educate her too much…homeschool her…like School for Wives…” When the curious AJ takes it upon himself to visit The Girl’s bakery, Quinn goes ballistic. When The Girl unexpectedly shows up to deliver an order herself, an innocent conversation explodes, leading to depression, desperation, and devastation.
Xander Johnson embodies the cocksure cynicism of AJ, covering his parental wounds with venom, yet also displaying some tender moments. Nate Houran captures Quinn’s idealism and stubborn innocence in the face of disillusionment. Jillie Mae Eddy, the playwright, portrays well the nameless Girl in her imposed sweetness, silence, shyness, and vapidity in the boys’ mind, covering her eyes when AJ strips half-naked and her ears when someone curses.
I like this play’s bold, fresh approach, presenting The Girl onstage as she would appear in these boys’ minds—a peek into the immature masculine psyche. I also like how the play reveals the mindset of a man who assumes the right to insert himself into an attractive woman’s life. Dividing the Madonna-whore complex between them, each man in The Boys Are Angry struggles with the concept of relating to a woman whose world doesn’t revolve around him. To borrow from current vernacular, neither boy truly believes that Female Lives Matter.