Review: Feminazi (25A Belvoir)

Venue: Belvoir St Theatre (Surry Hills NSW), Feb 22 – Mar 11, 2023
Playwright: Laneikka Denne
Director: Danielle Maas
Cast: Shayne de Groot, Ziggy Resnick
Images by Clare Hawley

Theatre review

Zan spends an inordinate amount of time on social media, expressing her anger about sexism, or to be more precise, declaring her hatred of men. Zan’s brand of feminism, although admirably radical, is full of bitterness and antagonism, to the extent that observers might even think she behaves just like the men she despises. Laneikka Denne’s Feminazi deals with the challenges involved in our navigation of feminist politics, and how entrenchment in patriarchal structures often leads us to act in ways that seem to replicate the very systems that we condemn.

It is a chaotic work, although not incoherent, that represents with a level of accuracy, the anarchic messiness involved, in many of our experiences, when trying to operate outside of established milieus. Directed by Danielle Maas, the show bears an intensity that will no doubt be captivating for those who share similar beliefs pertaining these matters, but humour is sacrificed, in favour of that political fervency. Parker Constantine and Xanthe Dobbie are responsible for video elements that feature prominently in the production; vivid and joyous, they encapsulate online culture in ways that reflect an attentive scrutiny, of everything happening in digital realms.

Hailley Hunt’s set design places in the centre, a large video monitor, pristine in contrast to the dishevelment of Zan’s neglected living quarters. Costumes by Hunt are athletic and powerful, for a character obsessed with cultivating an aggressive persona, in public and in private. Frankie Clarke’s lights and Aisling Bermingham’s sounds offer valuable enhancements to atmosphere, preventing the viewing experience from turning monotonous.

Actor Ziggy Resnick is extremely convincing as Zan, with an intimidating quality that provides for the production, a unique and distinct flavour completely commensurate with its incendiary title. Resnick’s commitment, along with an impressively thorough familiarity with the material, keeps us riveted, even when Zan’s behaviour becomes deeply alienating. Shayne de Groot offers purposeful support in the role of Angie, the voice of reason that enters the scene to disrupt the escalating danger of Zan’s intentions.

As feminists, we need to embrace discomfort and upheaval, for the opposite, that of familiarity and politeness, is almost always certain to keep us on the straight and narrow, playing by the rules of the adversary, and leading us nowhere meaningful. It is integral that we remember that the patriarchy understands more than anything, the language of power, and of intimidation, but agitators need to remember that that mode of communication must not be absorbed into all aspects of our own lives. We need to lead with love and kindness, especially when dealing with individuals, for few of us are unscathed by this harmful system. To survive any war, combatants need to keep their eye on the prize, especially when the desired result, is one we know to require an immense shift, to something radically compassionate and inclusionary.