Perhaps you aren’t aware of fuckboys. Perhaps you haven’t even heard the term. Luckily for the uninitiated, Facepalm Theatre have come to the Edinburgh Fringe complete with snapbacks and swear words to teach us about this wonderfully millennial condition. Most of us have met a fuckboy at one time or another, and exploring their existence has proved fertile ground for a lively comedy piece.
fertile ground for a lively comedy piece
Facepalm Theatre swagger through the hour of F*ckboys For Freedom with all the abandon and banter of their central character, a young man who, in an attempt to gain approval from peers and in pursuit of the opposite sex, becomes a ‘fuckboy’. We follow his ludicrous experiences with the gym, drugs, alcohol, sex, and even Kanye West as he becomes increasingly shallow and selfish. After a tragedy spoils his fun, he starts on the road to redemption.
The humour of this show lies in large part in the slapdash form it takes. Relentlessly self-aware, it repeatedly finds humour in highlighting purposefully clumsy theatrical conventions. For instance, multiple, deliberately two-dimensional characters named “Generic”, designed only to further the plot, feature heavily. One of these discusses the alarming concept that when he leaves the stage he will disappear or die, his role fulfilled. This sort of humour helps to maintain an intimate atmosphere, with the audience complicit in the deconstruction of normal theatrical rules. This approach paid dividends, with many chuckles directed at Max Reid, who played role after role with various cod accents and manic expressions.
The downside of this humour lies in its overall effect of the piece. Billed as a blend of satire and politics, the show attempts to make a serious comment about rape culture, but is either unwilling or unable to stop the banter long enough to do so. The audience participation is clever, tricking an audience into complicity with rape culture and the objectification of women, but by then the characters have been rendered so deliberately two-dimensional that we simply waited for the next joke and laughed it off. It’s hard not to feel like F*ckboys for Freedom is an opportunity missed, so close to exploring what really creates this inclination among young men to routinely mistreat women. It’s a truly funny piece of theatre, and seems comfortable to remain within that zone.