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Review: Netgirlz at Old 505 (Freshworks FEMME)

By Rosie Niven

These days, the Internet is an integral part of our lives. It helps us get from A to B, connects us with friends, and gives us endless information at our fingertips. But can it write a play?

That’s what the team behind Netgirlz set out to find out - if all of the chaos online, from millions of memes to smutty fanfiction can create something beautiful. What results is a low-res mashup of all of our favourite bits of the Internet… and some of our not so favourite ones.

Netgirlz is broken into three main scenes, with sharp comedic transitions woven throughout. More than a narrative, it’s a multimedia experience: constant streams of memes and viral videos are projected onto two walls, filling the space and overwhelming us with the content. Vignettes of physical violence are amplified by the sexual violence portrayed on screen in video game chat rooms, and transitions have us glued to the screen as we relive our favourite viral moments in Internet history. The story is messy, but it’s meant to be - advertised as ‘anti-theatre’, it explores so many elements of the web that we engage with everyday, and takes us through everything from porn to fanfiction to catfishing to just who exactly that terrifying creature called Momo is that’s all over the web.

If you’re older than 30, or haven’t spent a lot of time online, this probably isn’t the show for you. A lot of the comedy comes from the nostalgia of seeing viral videos that you were obsessed with when you were a teenager, or hearing the fanfiction you used to read sneakily in your room, now being read out on stage. If you’re under 30, you’ll love this 50 minute wild ride. It’s fun, punchy and clever, and you’ll get a chance to rewatch all your favourite vines.

Director Mikaela Atallah has put together a fantastic team for Netgirlz. The powerhouse trio of performers she’s gathered are a strong unit that bounce off each other well - the comedic timing is sharp, the wit is strong, and although the middle section dragged significantly, it’s enjoyable comedy to watch. The rest of the audience loved it too, with constant belly laughs erupting from the seating bank. It seems the actors loved the content as well, and during certain moments in the work they had to stop performing to try and stifle a laugh. Normally actors breaking character because they’re overcome with laughter detracts from the performance, but in this case it added to the hilarity, and soon after we’re all laughing along with them. Their energy and enjoyment is contagious. More than just funny though, the comedy is insightful, reminding us of just how toxic and frightening the Internet can be, and the sort of things that it can breed with no effort at all. How dangerous is it to have all of this at our fingertips?

Netgirlz is weird, wild and wonderful, just like the World Wide Web that we interact with everyday. Although some jokes felt underdeveloped and needed a bit more finetuning, the work as a whole is exciting, and I can’t wait to see what the team at Royalty Free Theatre has in store for us next.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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