Reviewed by Thomas Symington.
There is something peculiar about sitting amongst an audience, many of whom will only know the character onstage from a social media profile. Titania McGrath has risen to the fore of Twitter satire in an age where the "radical intersectionalist poet committed to feminism, social justice and armed peaceful protest" isn’t a far cry from authentic virtue-signalling that happens online. The comedian Andrew Doyle’s creation went above and beyond the Twittersphere earlier this year with her book ‘Woke: A Guide to Social Justice,’ which was well-received by critics. The challenge for Alice Marshall, cast to play Titania, was to satisfy those who already had an image of her in their minds.
The tone for the performance is set by a short clip of the new Prime Minister followed by crashing thunder; McGrath wins Fringe Bingo within the first minute. Other clips of milkshakes, Farage and Robinson introduce what has ‘triggered’ Titania. After this, she tells the audience that they have come to a lecture, not a comedy show, since the latter is a construct of the patriarchy. Marshall offers a posh, tightly-strung, borderline-sociopath and establishes this with a couple of brilliant ad-libs to both latecomers and her own tech-assistant; no-one is going to get in the way of her ‘lecture’.
The big idea for her Mxnifesto is a new political party called ‘Shame UK’ whose policies include compulsory veganism and decolonising the BAFTAs. The latter proposal is a genius take on the enormous scrutiny awards ceremonies have become subject to in recent years, chiefly on social media. As the show progresses, however, the freshness of the material begins to buckle slightly under the weight of a character who isn’t entirely conceivable. Characterfully performed raps and a sketch about killing baby Hitler just about prop up a second half which concludes with tribal-costumed song and dance. These cheaper laughs don’t feel entirely consistent with a character who is meant to take herself seriously as a social-justice warrior but will no doubt entertain punters without any preconceptions from her Twitter.
Titania McGrath: Mxnifesto runs at Pleasance Above until 25th August.