The Beatles Were a Boyband

Rachel O'Regan
F-Bomb Theatre
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose

The Beatles were a Boyband

They could be any group of female housemates sitting around chatting about what to watch as they scroll through social media when one of them spots something disturbing that has happened to a 25-year-old woman.

Appalled, the three briefly talk about the violence women suffer at the hands of men, but things become more intense when Daisy (Linzi Devers) angrily speaks live about it on TikTok.

Many women respond with accounts of their own suffering, their own fears. Her sponsors drop her, perhaps not wanting to be associated with something as controversial as the opposition to violence against women.

Occasional dissenters point out that “not all men” are like that as if telling you there is only one poisoned sweet in a barrel of sweets is going to make you feel safe eating any of those sweets.

Daisy begins to organise protests and a petition for free night buses to get women safely home. However, her flatmates are less keen on kicking up a fuss, though in different ways they too have suffered from male violence. Heather (Kirsten Hutchison) is still haunted by something that happened to her years before and Violet (Sally Cairns) is increasingly uneasy about her late-night walk alone from her job through the empty streets of Edinburgh.

The online abuse of Daisy grows. One evening, a bundle of flowers is left on her doorstep with a note saying “for your funeral”. It’s scary enough for Daisy’s flatmates to demand she gives up her campaign. When she reminds them that women wouldn't even have the vote if not for the sacrifices of the women who fought for women’s right to vote, one of them says, “yeah Emmeline Wilding threw herself in front of the King's horse so we could have a choice between Johnson and Starmer.”

Occasionally in this powerful well-performed show, the lights will dim and focus on some aspect of the issue. A series of women reveal how they respond to walking streets alone. We hear of a shocking set of statistics that include one woman murdered every three days. Projected onto the back screen is a clip of the outrageous Metropolitan Police abuse of women at a vigil for Sarah Everard murdered by a policeman. And in case any of us should think the medical profession has a history of sensitivity towards women, we hear some examples of their stupid sexism.

This fine show is often mischievous and funny but it always has its eye on the issue of male violence, never letting the rest of us off the hook. After all, as one character points out, men don't just wake up one morning and decide to do something out of character. We are all part of the context in which the behaviour has developed.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna