Misanthropy, as the title implies, is not a cheery play - it is miserable. Six miserable people unknowingly connected by a sexual assault weave through their miserable lives in this fable about misery and miseries. Each miserable scene plays out with such abject misery it’s hard to find anything other than said misery to hang onto. The characters’ existences are Golgothas of misery and one starts to wonder if they have ever known anything other than misery - were they born miserable? Which came first, the miserable or the misery? If there is no beginning to their misery, can there be an end to the misery?
The misery is all-consuming, so much so that the characters are compelled to miserably soliloquise their misery at every possible and miserable opportunity. Staring miserably out into the blank misery of the audience they ask, ‘Why I am alone? Why can’t I love? Why won’t they love me? Why, oh why, am I so amazingly miserable?’
The misery in Misanthropy is overt to the point that the entire narrative consists purely of miserable characters being miserable, thus evacuating any substance from the emotional core. Misanthropy has no moments of joy or hope, and so there is no emotional arc – no positives to give the negatives weight or reason. All that is on offer is a series of increasingly dull and tiring scenes which are full of, in case I haven’t made this clear, titanic and unprecedented misery.
The cast do their best to work with what they’ve been given and there is some skilled acting on display. The writer Sam Siggs and director Kirsty Logan, however, appear to have been 100 per cent committed to the misery and have been unable to produce the much needed moments of joy. Therefore the emotional punch that they’ve tried to produce is a miserable swing and a complete miss.