Titania McGrath review – Twitter avatar proves less substantial in 3D | Stage



Only the terminally woke would deny that their crusade for social justice – the movement to establish safe spaces and stamp out micro-aggressions – now and then opens itself up to ridicule. That’s the space in which comedian Andrew Doyle’s Twitter alter ego Titania McGrath operates, and, on that forum at least, hits the occasional satirical bullseye. She also provides succour, of course, to the anti-PC brigade, who situate any attempt to institute a kinder or fairer society somewhere between impertinence, childish naivety and Marxist-Leninism.

Whether you love or loathe McGrath’s social media incarnation, you’ll struggle to enjoy this live debut. Scripted by Doyle, performed by Alice Marshall and (on my visit) abandoned midway by several audience members, it contrives to feel less fleshed-out than the online avatar. I’m not sure why, but McGrath is depicted as a Sloaney trustafarian: messianic, snobbish and dim-witted. It’s a decision that completely undermines the satire on wokeness, given that this character doesn’t resemble any social justice warrior you have ever, or will ever, meet.

The conceit is that McGrath is launching her new political party Shame UK. We hear her “mxnifesto” (compulsory veganism, ban free speech, etc) and one or two earnest performance poems, too – those softest of soft comedy targets. Occasionally, Doyle raises a smile as he exaggerates this or that modest proposal for social inclusion – see McGrath’s proposal for intersectional Bafta categories, or for infinite new gender pronouns. More often, it’s too scattershot, wastes its ammunition on PC-gone-mad tabloid straw men, and is performed with far more cynicism than sympathy. A near-the-knuckle satire on wokeness might fly – but here, the knuckle is nowhere to be seen.

At Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh, until 25 August.

Read all our Edinburgh festival reviews