Red Pill – Theatre Upstairs – Review by Frank L.
Written and performed by Liam Hallahan
Hallahan has already shown an ability to craft an inventive script in his “Liam Hallahan buries his Dad live on stage”. In this one man show he plays the role of a teenage boy who, in appearance, is without any confidence. He is quite far removed from the alpha male type who is sought after by many females. His first attempt at a girlfriend is crushed with the rejoinder “I have a boyfriend, get lost”. He lives with his single Mum as his father has bolted many years before. However, he is in contact with him via the internet. He has a best friend who is called Helen. He attempts to convert her into something more than a friend and then the hashtags, which appear on the programme, come into play; #Love, #Revenge #TheArtofTrolling.
Hallahan gives fair impressions of each of the characters he portrays so that they become familiar to the audience. They each have a distinct personality. This part of the play is very well realised. His script at times is witty such as his explanation of “Dylan Thomas”. He also fires one or two arrows at the agenda of some feminists in the apparent need for uniformity of thought.
At the beginning, he appears sitting in a leather office chair with dashing scarlet strips, which complement his own attire of a pair of bright red runners and a rather fetching crimson (in part) check shirt. In addition there are five video screens at the back of the stage. These enrich his retreats into his bedroom where he becomes confident in practising his most favoured pop dance routine. Later, the screens are used to display the website, Redpill, whose message is for men as unhappy as his father is. He reveals his fraught upbringing and that he had in his childhood no role model who made any sense to him.
Perhaps this void in his life is the underlying reason why he unleashes these attacks from the confines of his bedroom. It is made more unpleasant that he boasts subsequently that someone else took the blame for it! Trolling is a coward’s means of attack as it is anonymous. Trolling needs condemnation; but this piece takes a neutral stance on it. Perhaps this reflects real life, where these attacks so often go unpunished.