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  • Chris O'Rourke

Hate F%#k

Leanne Bickerdike in Hate F%#k by Jodie Doyle. Image Al Craig


You could be forgiven for thinking 80s avant garde cinema. Writer and designer Jodie Doyle’s impressive debut Hate F%#k opening with a woman sitting on the floor with her back to the audience. Combing her hair whilst scrutinising her reflection in a menagerie of mirrors. The plastic covered furniture dominating Doyle’s monochrome set suggesting a crime scene or newly bought apartment. An unnamed male, rocking to the stage in socks and boxers, struts like a cliche to a synth pop soundtrack whilst walking towards a rail of costumes. At which point the hairbrush wielding Rapunsel swirls to face the audience. Making it crystal clear why you should never judge a book by its cover.

Ruairi Nicholl and Leanne Bickerdike in Hate F%#k by Jodie Doyle. Image Al Craig

Less Crimes of Passion so much as The Commitments at times, Doyle’s hit and miss script speaks to passionate and passionless sex as well as sex crimes, many committed against the self. The pretentious narcissist Abigail, an aspiring actress dismissing everyone as pretentious, is undergoing a woe is me, post-college, quarter life crisis. The type that’s provided backdrop for the likes of  Stephanie Preissner’s Can’t Cope, Won’t Cope and Máiréad Tyers’s Extraordinary. The first half of Doyle’s script, like Abigail’s life, screaming like an F1 racing car, its wheels energetically spinning an avalanche of smoke, but the car going nowhere. Juvenile, cliched observations from twenty something, coke fuelled, drunk and disappointing one night stands unlikely to engage anyone not engaged in twenty something, coke fuelled, drunk and disappointing one night stands. Till an after work party sees the cocaine bumping Abigail seeking revenge on her ex who’s engaged to another woman. An ex she’s still sleeping with, and with whom the sleeping is rough. Abigail spiralling to somewhere she knows not where, nor why, nor how after a peculiarly tender and awkward experience. Hate F%#k phenomenal when it shifts from weak story to heartfelt character study and lets Abigail breathe, curse and howl. The wheels finally hitting the tarmac and scorching into a lead. Hitting an ugly speed bump as the vitalised Abigail delivers a self-righteous diatribe during an audition. Sending the whole screeching towards the barriers. As if Doyle doesn’t trust herself, her character or her audience and opts to batter them with unnecessary lecturing. Her misogynistic director yet another walk-on trope in Abigail’s life, like the rest of Doyle’s men. Thankfully, Hate F%#k grips the road again and crosses the finish line in considerable style. Abigail, wearing her tattered heart on her soul-seared sleeve, bringing it painfully and poignantly home.

Leanne Bickerdike and Ruairi Nicholl in Hate F%#k by Jodie Doyle. Image Al Craig

Structurally, Doyle’s cinematic script straddles a space between one woman monologue and stand up comedy sketch, with both married to the bare bones of a play. Director Ois O’Donoghue doing sterling work welding the three into a compositionally wonderfully whole. O’Donoghue’s pacing, positioning, and crafting of inventive images hugely impressive. Along with their ability to elicit strong performances. If Ruairi Nicholl does strong work playing a variety of one dimensional, masculine tropes, it can be hard to appreciate given that all his roles together still wouldn’t amount to a credible male character. A failing in Doyle’s script which Nicholl goes a long way to try compensate for. But he also has to contend with Leanne Bickerdike. Truth told, Emma Stone placed next to the divine Bickerdike might well look pedestrian. Bickerdike oozing presence, skill, and charisma in abundance, producing an irresistible performance. Showing more natural talent in the joints of her little finger than many a seasoned veteran. Bickerdike’s Abigail less a character so much as a raw, richly layered, and relentlessly visceral experience as Bickerdike gives everything of herself. Then somehow gives more.

Leanne Bickerdike in Hate F%#k by Jodie Doyle. Image Al Craig

Brave, exhilarating, and refreshingly fearless Hate F%#k yields double the pleasure when you realise the calibre of talent on display. This astonishingly young company being breathtakingly brilliant. Following on from their critically acclaimed Hyper, Hate F%#k confirms Jaxbanded as a serious outfit on the rise. With Bickerdike a joyous revelation. Their future bright as they set about taking the world by storm, having everything they need to go as far as they care to go.

Hate F%#k by Jodie Doyle, presented by Jaxbanded Theatre Company and The New Theatre, runs at The New Theatre until April 13.

For more information visit The New Theatre or Jaxbanded Theatre


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