POST: FringeNYC's 'The Boys Are Angry' - the odds against women

Photo by Marlene Tukor

Photo by Marlene Tukor

A small stage clustered with semi empty pizza boxes and definitely empty beer bottles. After what felt like... 10 minutes - AJ stomps onto the stage - wearing plaid boxers and aviators - where he proceeds to offend the entire female race. I caught myself holding back a smile as he stated that women were the sole reason for “breaking up the fucking Beatles.” As a Beatles fan myself I found the reference endearing.

After the brutal introduction to AJ’s perspective on women, the bitter gamer settles onto a rugged yellow couch. It is quickly revealed that the living room is all he utilizes in the 1,000+ sq. foot home. He paces around the stage in search of food, through a pile of rancid takeout containers, only to then settle on grabbing a beer. I took a moment to ponder this - was this an artistic statement I was failing to see?

Before coming up with anything conclusive Quinn enters. Dressed in Brooks Brothers latest collection, I immediately knew that he was the ‘nerdy’ friend. Their interaction led where I expected: AJ is the controlling friend and Quinn is the sensitive programmer, oh, and Quinn has a major crush on a mystery girl.

Quinn himself presents as a soft-spoken gentle giant, he is the ‘safer’ choice of the two. He appears to have his life together, as well as a connection to the real world – especially if compared to AJ. For myself, this dynamic did not exactly pan out. Both characters had extreme changes but they simply caused me to remember that I was watching something staged.

This mystery girl herself was never given a name but her presence on stage was hard to ignore. As Quinn begins to rave about her to AJ, she sprints onto stage as a bubbly and enthusiastic dog. Bitch (a.k.a. female dog) being one of AJ’s favorite adjectives when describing women, I took the Girl’s introduction and qualities to be what AJ imagined her to be – a clingy dog. For AJ this exciting and affectionate girl is annoying and clingy, but for Quinn her loyalty and physical affection for him is lovable and inviting.

My favorite exchange of dialogue is when AJ provides some sage advice to Quinn about reality. Quinn feared that letting the Girl meet AJ would result in her leaving him. He wanted to keep her a fantasy or, as he put it, ‘in a bubble.’ AJ wisely responds that no matter how much he tries to avoid the situation meeting was inevitable because eventually they will have to come into the real world. Not to say that the gamer couldn't give great advice, but AJ’s change in opinion was so fast that it simply confused me on what his purpose was. He had been introduced as anti-feminist - then to be extremely annoyed by the idea of his friend dating a decent girl - to suddenly understanding it all and helping his friend get the girl. It made no sense without AJ having an interaction or event change his mind about women.

Although confusing,  AJ’s change of heart made it was easier to see a bit of myself in him. He had a logical way of looking at things, which made him more complex person - he lead with his head rather than his heart. If anything Quinn was too ordinary and expected, boring. AJ had dimension to him - even as he called me a ‘Femi-Nazi’.

As I sat in my seat and tried to make sense of it all, I found that the character I least expected had captured my attention. I noticed it wasn’t just me – most of the audience had found their own way of relating. I saw women gasp in horror, while fathers and sons looked at each other and laughed in agreement to the colorful description of a female.

As the story moves forward a week or so - we are finally given an exchange between AJ, Quinn, and the Girl. Unfortunately, I have to say I expected the ‘twist.’ Quinn made up the whole relationship between him and the Girl. AJ had unknowingly hit the bull’s eyes when he told Quinn that his fantasy would soon come to an end. The Girl ends up being a daily acquaintance that barely knows Quinn.

Surprisingly enough, AJ takes a liking to her. She is not as exuberant and clingy, and she is absolutely not Quinn’s girlfriend. During this whole ordeal we find out that Quinn has changed his name and glorified his tech job to impress the Girl. She is nice enough to acknowledge his cordialness and soon leaves. However, I was under the impression that this story was supposed to bring awareness to hate crimes against women. For this reason, I think that my confusion is justified. Aj was one dude who – arguably – hates women and under the eyes of society is basically a loser. How was this supposed to bring awareness to hate groups that target women? 

Soon enough, I am more confused as Quinn relentlessly stalks the Girl. I am disappointed. They have made the nerdy boy out to be a weirdo that creates strange fantasies. They have made an unexpected character the ‘bad guy’? Once let down by a girl, Quinn falls into a deep depression that turns volatile when the Girl confronts him about sending deranged love letters. The savage nature of women that AJ describes at the top of the show is much like the one that Quinn turns into, for which I am positive the description was not intended.

As the Girl tries to leave, Quinn stands in her way and aggressively tells her that he will not accept her rejection of his love. Quinn, out of nowhere, grabs the Girl and strikes her - leaving her limp on the floor. Just as it marked the end of the show, I sighed in relief for it being over.

I tried to find a moral to the chaos; but was left with so many questions rather than answers:
A girl is left limp on the ground.
A nice guy turns into a savage women beater.
A women hater awkwardly lays in the fetal position at the corner of the room.
I had seen it all unfold before my eye yet was left speechless in confusion. The one thing I did appreciate was its way of representing the honest truth about the odds against woman.

- J. Christine