TITANIA MCGRATH: MXNIFESTO
Pleasance Courtyard – Above
August 2-25th (not 12th)
🌟🌟🌟🌟 (4 Stars)
Nowadays, there are many instances of artists attempting to turn films, television shows and even the greatest hits of popular bands into stage shows. Some have been successful (the ABBA musical ‘Mamma Mia!’), some not so much (Harry Hill’s X Factor flop ‘I Can’t Sing!’). However, turning a satirical Twitter account into an hour-long show is probably the most difficult task of all. With other source material, there are established characters, plotlines, locations, songs; with Titania McGrath, there is one composite image, controversy and a whole lot of ‘wokeness’.
I must admit, when first hearing that Andrew Doyle was taking his Twitter creation to the Fringe, I was a tad worried. The satire of the Titania character is something that many in the ultra-left, hyper-woke faction of society tend not to understand fully. In a pre-Fringe article for ScotsGay, I wrote that in today’s society, comedy is something that divides people. I believe that there is not a show at this year’s Fringe that will divide people more than ‘Mxnifesto’ (spelled with an ‘x’ because the original spelling is offensive, as it contains the word ‘man’)
For me, I loved the show. Titania (played by the fabulous Alice Marshall) appears on stage as a god-like cult figure, standing in the spotlight that she believes she deserves. She explains at the start of the show that she is here to promote the manifesto for her new political party “Shame UK”.
The brilliance of the show is that it is not simply a bunch of tweets read out for an hour. The clownish character of Titania is actually given some depth. This mouthpiece for the extreme left is fully formed in front of our eyes. And to be honest, it’s a little scary. There are small interludes in the lecture in which Titania grapples with major issues such as white privilege (the man beside me was dragged up on stage during this piece due to looking “a little bit homeless”), unique ways to deal with a baby Hitler and even a rant about her own birth.
This depth, however, causes a slight problem. The show occasionally crosses the fine line from satire to parody. The Twitter account itself is a clever satire. We read it in a way that is unique to us. We recognise those ‘Titanias’ in real life: those born with a silver spoon in their mouths, the ‘gap yaah’ students, those who intentionally take offence to statements just because it comes across as trendy. However, as the character of Titania becomes more three dimensional, there is a slight tendency that the material, itself, begins to
lampoon Titania as a person, and not so much those groups she is trying to satirise in the Twitter account.
As the show drew to a close, there began a Q+A section, in which Titania pointed at me and demanded I ask her a question on her lecture. She seemed to mishear my original question and began to answer one she thought more important. This I believe sums up the experience. You can come in with opinions different to those of Titania – from alt-right to extreme left. However, after Titania is done with you, you will leave laughing and with a new appreciation of what it is to be ‘woke’.