Tuesday, 20 August 2019

Titania McGrath is Brought to Life at the Edinburgh Fringe 2019


Titania McGrath was created by the satirist Andrew Doyle as a series of tweets, which then grew into a book and has now been brought to life on the stage by Alice Marshall. If you hurry you can see it as I did last night as it runs up to and including Sunday. Tickets cost just over a tenner, which as Titania says is only the price of a decent flat latte.

So who is Titania McGrath? Well, she is everything that normal people hate, but according to her, she is a typical Kensington girl, with a modest trust find and a burning desire for social justice. In other words, she is a parasite who wants to make the lives of the rest of as difficult as possible. The Titania's of the country have been riding the cultural wave for several decades now and as anyone who has ever read the Guardian will know, the Brexit vote has created terror in their ranks as they contemplate what the plebs who outnumber them could do if they set their minds to it. 

Andrew Doyle's creation is the start of the process that will hopefully end with the real-life woke warriors back in their boxes having learned the meaning of the word defeat. We have a long way to go yet, but the book and now the one-woman performance can be said to mark the start of that process.

How good is the play? Well, it is good, but it still needs a script that has been tightened up some more, since it tends to wander from one thing to another until it ended up as a mixture of stand up comedy with some vignettes added. I liked the running joke about Titania's plans to set up a new political party called Shame UK, and it might have been a good idea to make the whole 45-minute performance the introduction of the new party. 

That said, when you look at the way that the Federasts are behaving both inside and outside the Commons, you might argue that it is impossible to parody the parody of British life that they have already created. That is doubly so when you consider that some of them blame Dad's Army for Brexit and others hold that air-conditioning is inherently sexist. Only then can you consider just how difficult it is to parody people who are so lacking in self-awareness that they do not realise how risible they are to normal people.

I was also dubious about interspersing Titiana's execrable poetry into the play, but that might just be me: I tend to the view that poetry by its very nature is pretty bloody execrable.

The Edinburgh fringe is the place where new works get their first outing before the changes are made that lead to their successful transfer to the London stage and given what I saw last night, this one should be odds-on the make the transfer very soon. Especially if the producers keep Alice Marshall in the title role.


She really did bring the character to life, and everything about her performance reeked of the privilege that the metropolitan woke generation regard as their right to impose on the rest of us. Sadly, the audience lacked a few members of the pure at heart who can be expected to make a loud exit half-way through a performance such as this and provide easy laughs for the rest of us. I believe that on other nights there have been such disruptions and that Alice Marshall is now pretty adept at making sure that they exit the theatre with their tails between their legs which is the way it should be. Alas, none of them was in the almost full house yesterday.

At the end of the play, I asked her to sign my copy of Woke, which she did. She was also, I thought, pleased that I called her Miss Marshall and not Miss McGrath, which leads me to wonder if some people do not believe that the actress really is the character. If they do, then I think she should take that as a complement to her theatrical presence, as she really did allow Titania McGrath to shine, in all her loathsome splendour.  


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