We Get It, presented by Elbow Room as part of this year’s MTC Neon Festival, is a playful and biting piece of satire which highlights and examines the issues of sexism and women’s experiences within theatre.
We Get It is presented as a game show, in which five women battle it out to play one of theatre’s great heroines: Medea, Antigone, Lady Macbeth, Nora Helmer or Blanche DuBois. Beginning with a truly excellent comment on the female gaze, which develops a unique and effective relationship with the audience, the show begins by asking its participants to rank themselves according to categories, which often (sadly, ridiculously) form the basis of casting in the industry. Who is tallest? Who has the lightest skin? Largest cup size? It quickly descends into darker, and strangely more relevant, questions: Who is the most likely to apologise for knowing something? Most likely to hang themselves?
Spliced together with a diary room in which participants can spill their guts, the game show rockets along with the help of DEM, a robot who appears as a disembodied voice announcing the audience’s level of engagement. The tacky aesthetics and sickening of reality television are hilariously sent up in We Get It, a highlight being Emily Tomlin’s turn as the Gretel Kileen-esque host, who herself is not everything she seems.
The performers – Tamiah Bantum, Amy Ingram, Kasia Kaczmarek, Maurial Spearim, Sonya Suares and the aforementioned Emily Tomlins (also a director and writer) – are the show’s co-creators, imbuing the piece with a distinct personality that does well to hold the diverse and talented cast without anyone feeling left out or distanced from the audience.
The relationship that is developed between performers and audience members in We Get It is the most impressive element of the show. Not just passive observers, but active and willing participants, we are complicit in everything that happens onstage, which makes for a heightened enjoyment of the funny moments, and a deeper drop in the stomach when things get uncomfortable. It is a show that cannot exist without an audience – the world of this play only exists when there is someone to watch it; it is not something that has a life of its own outside of the immediate theatre space, which is a fun take on reality.
As the show progresses, we see each woman being questioned in character, and eventually performing their heroine’s most famous speech. This makes for some electrifying moments, particularly Kaczmarek’s powerful performance of Lady Macbeth’s speech in Polish, and Spearim’s reclaiming of Antigone.
There are dozens of questions asked by this piece, and while they are asked dynamically and interestingly, it perhaps could have been even stronger if there had been less to wrangle with. The issues that We Get It raises are important and should not be ignored, but at times the piece slipped into politics overload. The wheel was always righted, but sometimes the audience felt close to shutting down. Which is, perhaps, precisely the point.
Ultimately, the women of this play come out on top, but there is still a long way to go come the play’s end, and it is a victory that is not easily won. Such is the state of sexism in the industry, and in wider society, today; We Get It does an admirable job of exposing and interrogating this status quo with humour and sincerity.