CW: this play explores the impact of violence, harassment and misogyny, including transcripts of hate speech and police reports.
What do you do when, “the world keeps worlding”, whilst women are getting killed on your streets, getting spiked on nights out, and, oh, whilst your flatmate has just been discovered by a bunch of incels on the internet? The Beatles Were a Boyband is an urgent response to the misogyny and male violence facing women today. Returning to a bigger venue after their sell-out Fringe debut last year, F-Bomb Theatre don’t miss a beat with this hard-hitting, hauntingly affective, and yet utterly hilarious show. Featured as part of the 2022 #femifringe programme, a celebratory collection of works led by women, enbies, femmes, and feminists at this year’s Fringe, this performance proudly shows women’s strength – in all its loud, quiet, energetic and unapologetic forms.
Set in the wake of a devastating crime, the details of which remain hauntingly unknown but the shape of which is all-too recognisable, The Beatles Were a Boyband follows the reactions of three young, female flatmates. After interrupting her hashtag-skinny-tea promoting Instagram livestream with an impassioned speech against #notallmen, Daisy (Linzi Devers), finds herself at the centre of a social-media maelstrom, prompting her to develop her campaigning voice alongside the #MeToo movement. Long-time friend and flatmate, Heather (Kirsten Hutchison), is doubtful, strained in her belief that anything will really change if she raises her voice. Although as the show goes on, and her relationship with Daisy is tested, we’re challenged to examine our preconceptions about whose voices we should be calling on anyway. Meanwhile, Violet (Sally Cairns) shows the damaging reality of fear, and the nervous changes women make when their daily living is put under constant threat.
Wonderfully crafted, the characters are flawed, angry, and afraid, but also intelligent, strong, and full of wit. The friendships are acted with an effortless naturalism, and the script, written by award-winning playwright Rachel O’Regan is painfully honest. From unsolicited dick pics, to the lies we tell our BeReals, she delivers a comedy filled insight into the lives of young women today. The lighting and sound design (by Sean Quinn) was impressive, creating an immersive theatre experience, with the multimedia elements in particular giving this sofa-based production a worldly feel (it’s worth mentioning here the lack of sound technicians at this years Fringe – with Jack Elvey doing an excellent job despite encountering some initial difficulties). Refreshingly, this show didn’t exult in showing graphically recreated violence on stage, but instead used skilfully constructed scenes to display an eerie, yet powerful, sense of loss and mourning, which pervaded the play.
Highly emotional, this striking and well-performed show was alarmingly reminiscent, powerfully putting into words many of the thoughts and feelings that living as a young woman has produced in the past few years. It may make you cry, but packed with references to Love Island and Swiftoggedon, it will certainly make you laugh, making this the show to see in its limited run this year.
The Beatles Were a Boyband is being being performed by Scottish women’s theatre company F-Bomb at Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose, Big Yin, August 7th-13th.
Image: Rachel Duncan, provided to The Student as a press material.