★★★★ | The Anorak, The Hope Theatre, Islington
The Anorak tells the story of the École Polytechnique Massacre, when Marc Lepine shot 28 people, killing 14 at a Canadian Polytechnic college in 1989.
Told from the point of view of the killer, the play separates its audience into two groups: men and women and much of the 70 minute play is directed solely towards the male audience members. This one man play recounts Lepines’ early life, his relationship with his mother and sister, and his justifications for the killings. In light of recent events, particularly the shooting in Santa Barbara, which similarly targeted female students by a student who was unable to get a girlfriend, this play is immediately unnerving and poignant.
Originally written by Adam Kelly, a Canadian writer, the play has won several awards in Canada. This adaptation sees Felix Brunger take the lead role with Matthew Gould at the helm as director. Brunger is believable if not quite likeable in the lead role, the audience is left short of being on his side during the play. He recounts his version of events and his early life, and there are occasional moments of relief from the heavy subject at hand with throw-away lines such as ‘like who gets rejected from the Canadian Army?’
Overall this adaptation is well acted and handles the heavy subject matter with care; Brunger owns the role of the social outcast completely, keeping the (male) audience on edge as he directs his attention only to them. (I can’t say what it was like as a female audience member being practically ignored for most of the performance).
The Anorak is on for only a short time at The Hope Theatre 207 Upper Street in Islington, inside the Hope and Anchor. Tickets available online through offwestend.com