EFR - Reviews of Fighting Talk

Fighting Talk

Fri 3rd – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Megan Denny

at 23:40 on 14th Aug 2018

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Snatch Theatre’s two-hander ‘Fighting Talk’ intertwines debates, sketches, spoken word performances and anecdotes, as it tackles the state of feminism in 2018.

The fragmented nature of this structure is generally effective in allowing a variety of issues to be examined, albeit briefly. The two female actors take on numerous roles with ease; from a 19th century gentleman raging against the suffragettes, to a black widow spider (the ‘original feminist icon’). While these characters are often comedic, they also offer alternative, sometimes conflicting perspectives on feminism. Particularly sensitive is a spoken word poem expressing the opinion of a man who feels he is suffering under the intensity of the feminist movement’s microscope when he is only ‘doing his best’. The excellent delivery and rhythm of this piece adds momentum to the play and the presentation of its arguments.

However, at some points, the varied structure of the play seems to veer into disjointedness. As a result, some scenes lack depth but feel somewhat chaotic, while others are long-winded and rambling. For example, the dance that begins the play would be more entertaining if the joke of the conflict between the two characters was less drawn out. Given the high-impact title of the play and the painted backdrop of the stage displaying thought-provoking slogans (‘Me Too’, ‘The Last Man’), an audience likely expects a more direct, engaging opening scene. Instead, the beginning feels a little stilted, and the pace remains slow until a volunteer is chosen from the audience to participate in a role-play conversation between two young men. Here, I feel the audience’s attention recaptured as the actors reveal that one of them had overheard the fat-shaming dialogue in this scene first hand. The personal nature of this anecdote is initially shocking, and then reinforces the pertinence of the issues discussed in the play.

The ongoing debate surrounding feminism is obviously essential, but also requires constant development. While ‘Fighting Talk’ does discuss many key problems facing the feminist movement in 2018, the script does not clearly present any ideas on how we can overcome these hurdles, whether in day to day life or on a larger scale. The play’s ending with prolonged screams from the actors is effective to express their frustration, but feels like an anti-climax given the debate that the production works hard to maintain for the preceding fifty minutes.

Nevertheless, ‘Fighting Talk’ is lively and entertaining in addressing 2018’s complex attitude to feminism.

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Ella Kemp

at 08:19 on 15th Aug 2018

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An angry patchwork flag hangs tall behind the two young women performing 'Fighting Talk'. Smeared insults are spat across the mismatched floral prints, white and orange textiles. “Whiny little diva”, “not yours” and, naturally, “grab ’em by the pussy” set the tone before anyone says a word.

Snatch Theatre probably wouldn’t like to be boxed as "angry", as the show urges an audience to debunk the myths of militant, hysteric feminism, one performance art piece at a time. Through spoken word, outlandish physical theatre, and the odd costume change, the show is relentless in proving how important it is.

“Self-righteousness is like your second favourite thing”, one actor scornfully reminds the other. But is there really a first? Past the creative attempts to fictionalise obvious problems with the patriarchy, the performers unashamedly break down the fourth wall, repeatedly, as if to reassure everyone that misogyny really does exist.

An audience member reads lines of a hurtful conversation that turns out to be verbatim; and if the severity of his words wasn’t clear enough, an epilogue offers a direct address on why talking about a woman’s weight is wrong. It’s overwrought, but casually dubbing him a “thick cunt” is an undeniable treat in a sporadically sharp script. An interlude on mansplaining in an Ellesse t-shirt offers an invigorating highlight and testifies to the performers’ stamina. But teething issues in the production prevent the good will of each idea from earning a sense of gravitas, as dense monologues are interrupted by unscripted stammers.

There’s a lot of potential to explore: reckoning with the guilt of trying to be a good feminist; choosing what is worth fighting for; as well as dissecting the sheer luxury of standing up to harassment when others cannot. But in then trying to challenge the format so much, the suspension of disbelief is broken too often. It’s like they’ve beaten you to the pub to talk about what the show meant, before you’ve even left the room.

These performers know who they are, and who they don’t want to be anymore. But to recognise the bubble they’re in - an echo chamber of female empowerment and activism - isn’t enough to break free from its shackles. Speaking up about the problem of calling someone an angry feminist won’t make it disappear unless you do something about it. There’s talk in all sorts of ways, but no innovation in the way of action.

But what can we do? If gender discourse makes you want to scream because it’s so complicated, art can often try to provide answers in relieving and enlightening ways. But by resigning to primal instincts and wailing on the floor, 'Fighting Talk' doesn’t feel cathartic. It’s not wrong, but it doesn’t reach out to give anyone anything better to believe in.

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