Review- Tits Or GTFO

A lot like the Mana Bar itself, ‘Tits or GTFO’ gives off a sense of unfulfilled potential. Billed as ‘a journey into female pop culture obsession’ sole performer Ell Ackerman presents not so much a play as a series of vignettes and observations of being a girl within geek culture. Taking a minimalist approach to […]

A lot like the Mana Bar itself, ‘Tits or GTFO’ gives off a sense of unfulfilled potential. Billed as ‘a journey into female pop culture obsession’ sole performer Ell Ackerman presents not so much a play as a series of vignettes and observations of being a girl within geek culture. Taking a minimalist approach to scenery, she guides us through the whole 45 minute show with nothing more than a few prop changes to signal the different perspectives.

Throughout the performance Ell shows a natural charm and comes across as genuine and heartfelt. Whether talking about connecting with her best friend Charlotte through a mutual love of geek culture or not being taken seriously by older guys, she embodies the character completely. However she was let down far too often by the patchy quality of the script. While the themes of inclusion within geek culture and being excluded and resented as a girl within that culture are approached enthusiastically too often the script reads like a Myspace blog. When the script is on point the lines sing like a knife, cutting through the inevitable bullshit that can surround any subculture. When talking of her experiences with guys calling her a fake geek girl, of challenging her geek cred, “they were just mugging to each other. I didn’t even need to be there, I was just a prop”. When struggling to fit in with a peer group and internet culture that was and still is predominantly male she “wanted to be as much like them as possible” even when they’d make jokes about giving her a ‘screaming eagle’ at the age of 14. How around them she could only ever be “stealthily female” as “there were no women on the internet. Anonymous meant male until proven guilty”.

Too often though, opportunities for further exploration of these issues were either squandered or missed entirely. She talks about her l33t friends obsession with 4chan and you expect it to expound on how unwelcoming any subculture, especially geek and internet cultures can be but instead it’s brought up just long enough to drop the titular ‘Tits or GTFO’ and then forgotten as “I didn’t go there”. When contrasting how she valued the opinions of the l33t older guys who were supposedly ‘real geeks’ against how much more fun she had playing more casual games with Charlotte she absolutely nailed the eventual realisation that she was wasting her time “playing games I suck at with dudes who only ever tolerated me”. I think everyone can relate to a time of wanting to belong to a particular group and eventually realising they are never going to accept you. However, rather than marking a natural turning point in the overarching storyline it’s overshadowed and robbed of impact by a little too much unnecessary waffle and an uncomfortably shoehorned Avril Lavigne reference.

After the awkward Sk8terboi skit we move onto one of the biggest moments of the show, describing the characters first experience cosplaying at a con. She was dressed as Catwoman, in her first and last store-bought outfit. Ell describes how overwhelming it is to be surrounded by people with the same interests and passions as you and you can see her shining through the character in that moment. Then she describes her first experience of being sexually assaulted. How one of humanities finest posed for a photo with her as a pretext to pull down her zipper and cop a feel in public. The moment itself was handled beautifully, the scene described and handled with exactly the right measure of emotion and respect. Looking around at that moment I could see that the entire audience was right there with her feeling that sense of outrage and injustice, that sense of being victimised. But then nothing was really done with it. At that moment Ell had the entire room in the palm of her hand and it kind of just petered out into nothing.

This unfulfilled potential was an overarching theme of the show. Time and again, a line or a scene would hit just the right note and then flounder with nothing to back it up. It was frustrating, because I could see the potential right there in front of me and I think the rest of the audience could too. We wanted consistent quality and depth from the show and just never really got it. That lack of consistency meant that rather than diving into ‘a journey into female pop culture obsession’ we ended up just glancing over a broad but ultimately shallow pond. Overall, it was an entertaining 45 minutes that was good but not as great as it could have been.

Review written by Joshua Scott based on the 16 May 2015 performance.

You can buy tickets to see Tits Or GTFO here