Browse reviews

Brighton Fringe 2024

Low Down


What could be worse than seeing the horrible misogynist Andrew Tate, on a stage just a few feet away?


Five Andrew Tates – that’s what.    


Five Andrew Tates! – an image I can’t now unsee – but that’s what OnTheNose Productions gave us, on the stage at the Rotunda Theatre.   (It’s not a pleasant job, being a reviewer – but someone has to do it …)


OnTheNose are five women, and right at the start we were given a disclaimer that this was going to be a Feminist piece.  Actually, they gave us disclaimers about everything from their singing talents to their boob sizes.   More disclaimers than you’d find in the small print of a mobile phone contract …


I’m not making a sexist comment here – their first song (and there were many throughout the show) stated clearly that – “We are Women.  With eyes, and smiles, and boobs.”   and they proceeded to enumerate – and fret about – their breast measurements.    And their bums.   “We are women.  Dysfunctional women.  Boob size matters!  To us!”


Problem is, of course, that they’ve been taken in by Society’s expectations of how the ‘Ideal Woman’ should be.  How she should look, how she should behave.   Expectations of a patriarchal society, where all values are subject to Male approval.


See – they were right about it being a Feminist show.


Suddenly, there was a powerful booming voice filling the theatre – was it God?

Not exactly – though the voice’s owner probably thought he was pretty close.  

It’s Archy.  Petrie Archy; and he’s decided that these women need a course at his Training Academy, to change them into ‘Ideal Women’.


Archy’s training is pretty militaristic.  There were boots at the front of the stage, and the five women put them on, while they took off their outer clothing to reveal a kind of ‘playsuit’- but in camouflage pattern.    He had them doing calisthenics – jumping up and down making arm movements like Village People performing Y.M.C.A. … but in this case it was T.A.R.T.T.A.M.E.R.    They actually spelled out TART TAMER.   

Hysterical – in both senses of the word …


Tarts – another derogatory word for women – though Archy preferred to refer to them as ‘Babes’.  

Archy wasn’t interested in their names, he just gave them numbers, and when Babe 430 objected that all the training exercises were based around women’s domestic tasks, she was reprimanded for being ‘very mouthy’ – “Only speak when you’re spoken to!”   


Soon the activity was broken by “A word from our sponsor – Andrew Tate”.   Here one of the women pulled on a kind of flesh-coloured bathing cap, donned a pair of shades, and became … Andrew Tate.   Full-on Hyper-masculinity.   “If you have sex with a woman because it feels good – you’re gay!”   “Crying is gay”.   And then, bizarrely (though there’s nothing NOT bizarre about Andrew Tate) – “What’s not gay?   Batman!”


Wonderful!   It seems Tate has actually said that (I looked it up)   If you know ANYTHING about Batman then you’ll have read about the homoerotic connection between the older man and his younger ‘companion’, Robin.    Interestingly, a number of observers have commented that Tate’s core following is amongst pubescent boys …


Soon – though I still can’t get the image out of my head – we had all five Babes bald-ed up as Andrew Tate.  (What’s the collective noun for a number of Andrew Tates?  ‘A punnet’ comes close.  A punnet of mushrooms, baldly white, with flecks of black: his shades – and grown in shit …)   

Tate’s message was very clear.   “Every woman needs a man!  –  That desperate desire, rooted deep in your womanhood … It’s natural.    Don’t disrupt the system !”    (the twenty percent of the group who is lesbian, gave a loud guffaw at this …)


What he means, of course, is – Don’t disrupt the Patriarchal system that keeps Men on top.


After the Sponsor’s words, it was back to the training.  Archy got the women practicing flirting, then kissing – “More tongue!” – and finally (of course) Blowjobs!     This involved the employment of a bright pink dildo – and if you’re eating dinner later then it’s probably better if I don’t go into detail …


Finally, the women have had enough, and decide to escape.  Archy spots them though, and with an ironic – “Good luck walking home in the dark …” he turns out the lights.

The space went black, and the women pulled out torches, which they used to illuminate their faces, scarily from below, as they articulated the thoughts of every woman on her way home alone in the dark.    “Don’t walk alone!”   “Ignore the rustling in the bushes!”


‘Mood Swings’ had been great fun up to now, but at this point the production got very dark indeed – and I don’t just mean the lighting.    The thoughts of the woman on her way home turned into actual cries of fear –

“Please stop touching me!”

“Please leave me alone!”

“Please – I promise – I won’t tell anyone!”

“Please stop – You’re hurting me – Please!”

and the sounds of a woman whimpering, afterwards …

Every woman’s fear – probably her deepest fear.  I could hear gasps near me in the audience, and one woman actually left the theatre space – I wonder what memories or fears the piece had triggered for her?   


Maybe that was a bit much – there were one or two mutterings from audience members afterwards – but personally I go to theatre to experience powerful emotions; and it’s not as if that attack or rape is an uncommon occurrence.  It’s just that most people prefer not to think about it.  Or of the misogynistic culture that underlies it.  Which is the point of OnTheNose’s production.


I haven’t named the OnTheNose members yet.  They are 

Maddie Bell

Emily Benucci

Esther Dracott

Hollie Jameson-Clarke

Aimee Taylor


Sam Wiltshire took the photograph.

Spirited performances from everyone – the dialogue and jokes as well as the songs.  Special mention should go to Emily Benucci on keyboard, and Hollie Jameson-Clarke on guitar.  They turned what might have been a moan, into a fully-fledged musical.

Esther Dracott is the Artistic Director and Producer of the show, they all did the writing, and you’ll notice I’ve listed them alphabetically as they can probably find out where I live …


So the show got very dark near the end, but at the close they performed another of their great songs.   It was about the things a woman has to put up with – walking alone, alleyways, car horns, revenge porn – and much much more.   The chorus was especially poignant –


“Will it ever change?

I don’t think they will ever change …”


I assume that ‘They’ refers to men in general.  I’m not overly hopeful about our patriarchal society, or that of other countries and religions – but I think that we in the Rotunda’s audience were changed a little bit.


Catch this show if you can – for once the phrase ‘this could change your life’ might be right.