Review by Carly Fisher
In a society that tends to render young women as ‘less than’ we are reminded that collectively they can hold a lot of power…it was the fandom of young women, of course, that made the Beatles shoot to international stardom. With that, we are reminded that this is not a group that it would be wise to underestimate and more than anything, we are reminded through F-Bomb theatre’s powerful returning show The Beatles Were a Boyband that when women band together, they can be rather unstoppable.
Or so we want to think. Actually things can stop us, actually people, and their actions especially, stop us all the time. When the story of yet another woman being abused and murdered makes the news, roommates Daisy, Heather and Violet each internalise this news differently. Violet doesn’t want to go to work, or out clubbing, because she is scared to get home at night. Daisy wants to take on the patriarchy and assumes the role of activist to see necessary changes to the treatment of women…but when your activism is on social media, how safe is your voice? And finally Heather wants almost to ignore the situation, appearing strong through it, but perhaps triggered by it instead.
Rachel O’Regan has described writing this show “as intimidating…gender based violence is a global emergency that affects one in three women in their lifetime, and so it deserves a painstakingly careful approach when representing it onstage.” O’Regan has much to be proud of! A play like this could hit a range of potential problems; over-dramaterisation, incorrect representation and certainly of becoming too preachy that audiences would ignore the important messages of the play. O’Regan overcomes them all and takes each of these challenges in her stride. She has masterfully constructed a play that offers three three-dimensional characters, highlights friendships, does not brush over the impacts even of the news of violence against women on all women and that makes important commentary on the use of social media in our society.
All three performances are strong and well considered. As Heather, Kirsten Hutchison shows great emotional range through her performance and reminds us all to continue to check in even with the seemingly strongest person in the room. Sally Cairns delivers a beautiful interpretation of Violet showing us the growing fear and discomfort being in a world with a statistic like one in three. Melissa Macnaught plays Daisy, the character who society would have us take the least seriously but the one who is most likely to impact positive change for us all. Macnaught plays Daisy with a beautiful balance of youthful optimism and fierce strength. As an ensemble, the group has found a powerful chemistry ensuring that the banter is fast, the fights are intense and the care for one another on stage is deep.
I didn’t personally feel that there was great need for some of the projection designs - the story more than carries itself without technology being brought into it again, but what was there was beautifully designed by Myshkin Warbler who is a very talented animation artist. The set, a living room, is functional and intimate - it reminds us that there are conversations that we all need to be having within our home. Kolbrún Björt Sigfúdóttir’s direction is largely successful, the strength of it lying in the clever chemistry that she has fostered between her actors.
The show is timely, packed with modern references to pop culture and laced with a fantastic sense of humour to help us navigate this impossible conversation. It is important work and a fabulous representation of new feminist theatre. Change out one or two particularly Scottish references and this work could take the stage in any country and feel equally relevant and required.
I look forward to seeing where it goes next and, in particular, watching out for what O’Regan writes next. This is a voice that audiences are all the richer for hearing and I hope it is the first of many plays of hers I get to see.