• Flora Gosling

Review: NSFW (theSpace on Niddry Street)

Updated: Jun 10

Hmm, I wonder if I started featuring topless production photos, whether my male audience will increase. Only really attractive actresses, mind. All slim and gorgeous with a pristine complexion and all the right assets, and we can always alter the imperfect. What harm can it do? Those are the themes running through Lucy Kirkwood’s 2012 play “NSFW”, which has been revived and performed at the Fringe by Not I theatre company. The plot is simple – something goes wrong at lads mag “Doghouse”, and we reflect on how women in the media are portrayed. Even as my cherished and limited readership read that line, some of them will have already left. With themes like that “NSFW” risks being lecturing, alienating, and unentertaining, but done well it could be fantastic.

Firstly, the writing is really sharp. The characters were each individual, entertaining, and got equal time in the spotlight which made their character dynamics and chemistry really strong. It’s also a hugely entertaining show, not so much that there are constant jokes but that the situation presented is a complicated one and rather interesting to see it play out and all the trouble that goes with it. The message of the show fantastically integrated into this story. When watching feminist theatre, I find that whenever a male character has a line complaining of the treatment of women, too often it sounds, rather ironically, like their wives are putting words into their mouths. That is not to say that they do not believe in what they are saying, but rather that the lines come off as unnatural and stale (perhaps because they have never been on the receiving end of such treatment, but that's a debate for another day). Here, there is no need for grand speeches but the conscience of our protagonist Sam is enough to both propel the plot and communicate a serious message about what is wrong with the modern media’s representation of women.

Photo Credit: Tara Carlin

Whilst most of the performances deliver what you expect in terms of quality – not standing out but fitting with their characters – those of Grace Maria and Alexander Lopez as the selfish, manipulative, but ultimately charming and commanding bosses were endlessly entertaining. Despite neither being the protagonist they are the driving force behind the show, perfectly mirroring each other with corresponding characteristics.

Walking out, I reflected on how solid the narrative was. Well-paced, well-constructed, and with the strong if unoriginal message that entertains and provokes conversation. There was also a great attention to detail, for example the writing on the board as part of the set posing ideas for articles such as “Queen’s page boy is SUPER hot now”, outlining the hypocrisy of modern acceptability in the media. My only criticism is that I found the ending unsatisfying, as though they had said everything they needed to say and stopped there, but that didn’t stop me reflecting on the issues raised and giggling at the more entertaining parts as I left. This is a show that appeals to a really wide audience, far more than the one that enjoyed it with me. In the wrong hands an original story such as this could have come off as satire or a cheesy British comedy, but here it shines. Four stars.

Featured Posts

Recent POSTS

 Search by TAGS