In many ways, the Internet today is an absolute hellhole of labels, vying groups and identity politics. Modern youth is stuck in a war between politics, socio-political leanings and myriad other forms of tribalism, fuelled by social media and talking heads online.
Onto this stage walk Sal and Libby, two self-righteous, if endearingly inept, ultra-radical feminist pals who have decided that the only solution to bringing down the patriarchy is to form a terrorist organisation and begin to murder those who present the most threat to the world and to their ideological hopes for the future. Taking the name The Feminazis as an ironic attempt to spite online trolls, they prepare, as best they can, and then kidnap a leading Incel YouTuber who espouses views that they detest. Their plan is to torture and murder him, but nothing is ever that easy—especially when you factor in the uselessness of The Feminazis, Libby's younger brother and the YouTuber himself.
It's a pity that The Feminazis is something of a letdown, as the cast are clearly committed and enthusiastic about the piece and managed to stir more than a few good laughs from the small audience. There was also some ingenuity in the production, with an Internet screen motif as a live scene header, displayed on iPads held by cast. But unfortunately, like many of the ideas, there wasn't a consistency to their use, similar to the tone of the piece, which shifted from silly farce into occasional moments of gruesome bloodletting without warning. Lily Vosper's script has the bones of a good idea here; it feels like a strange mix of Internet-savvy homage to Martin McDonagh, replete with gore, and lengthy dialogues of people shouting their political stances at each other and arguing around. But that juxtaposition with the farcical comedy never quite lands, as the clownish elements, repetition and long moments of everyone chasing each other round the same small room for minutes at a time grow wearying.
It's doubly unfortunate, as after a lot of talking and more than a little going round in circles, the ending of the play spins events into something far more gripping, elevating the material considerably. This is when the play really comes into its own, and the escalating drama took hold of the audience. The tragic cherry on the cake was the day that I saw the performance, the action reached it's peak, only to then crash to the floor with a disasterous lighting mistake which completely ruined the final moment of the play and left the cast taking slightly exasperated bows as they cast more than a little side-eye towards the tech box.
It's a Fringe fact that technical fluffs occur and it's unfair to lay all the blame there, especially for what is an interesting idea for a play, with a script that has some moments of mirth and inspired choices. But as a whole, this play never quite rises to meet the heights it aims for and smacks of a lack of rehearsal, preparation and experience.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan