Beatie Queensbury is the most hated woman in the Twittersphere – she’s made a name for herself – and become a celebrity – by spouting blistering bile and hatred. She has even gone on record as saying that if her daughter were to come out as a lesbian, that she would shoot her in the head.
This new play written by Nigel Fairs (My Gay Best Friend, In Conversation With an Acid Bath Murderer) and directed by Louise Jameson (Tenko, Doctor Who, Eastenders) is a hard-hitting and impassioned piece that starts out as one thing and then, before our very eyes, transmogrifies into quite something else entirely.
We don’t want to delve too deeply into the details of the plot here, as the twists and turns of the piece are one of its principle pleasures, but – as you’ve probably already gathered – one of the characters is, loosely, based upon Katie Hopkins – the real-life reigning queen of social media spite. How the far-reaching ripples created by this twittering twit’s viperish venom impact and affect others is what’s under examination here.
This is a script that took us quite by surprise as it refuses to conform to expectation and tears itself from the constraints of frothy romcom to roar and writhe as a maddened meditation on homophobic bullying, full of fire and fury.
Beatie Queensbury is brought to grim and ghastly life with terrific talent and visceral verisimilitude by Abi Harris. This is a multi-layered performance, with Harris deftly managing to show us depths of a woman who strives to conceal them and display only surface. She almost succeeds in persuading us to feel sorry for the beast, but, then, every time we’re close to caring, manages to prove even more loathsome than we thought possible and is simply a monster again. Pure evil in kitten heels and a cocktail dress. Magnificently maleficent.
Author Nigel Fairs appears as ‘The Man’ – a deeply touching turn that shocks and surprises as the truth of the situation is drip-fed to us drop by devastating drop, and one that offers a perspective on the gay experience that we’ve not seen explored to any great extent upon the stage before. Fairs here offers a truth so painful that it is, at times, difficult to watch. But we’re very glad that we did – a bravura performance.
The part of ‘The Boy’ is gifted a pure and beautiful clarity by Sam Peterson. Again, we’re reluctant to discuss in any great detail the specifics of the setup here – but Peterson pulls off the part with aplomb, deftly demonstrating some of the rougher realities of being a young gay person in the modern world of Twitter and Tumblr. An impressive performance that finds courageous candor in sensuous simplicity.
Direction from Louise Jameson is tight and tense – there is a pervading sense of unreality to the situations on offer here that is skilfully teased to a climactic confession – ending the first act on a belter of a cliffhanger. What then follows, as the play rages to its conclusion, is as fine a collaboration between writer, director, and performers as you’re ever likely to witness. We strongly encourage you go and discover for yourself exactly why we’re being so coy about the finer points of this production… Stunning stuff – highly recommended.
GT gives Ebeneezer and Me at The Space — 5/5
More information can be found here.