The brazen concept of Beg For Me is to unpick the relationship between violent misogyny, consent and the radicalisation of people into the so-called ‘Alt Right’ online. The show does an extremely valiant effort of displaying the pure vulgarity, hatred and nastiness that falling into the clutches of online extremism entails. As it begins to dig beneath the surface of the central character’s fascistic nature, Rosa Maria Alexander’s script reveals just how deep the rabbit hole goes.
We begin in a room with only an armchair and a foot stool, adorned by a white man with a moustache and flannel shirt. ‘@R3alAme3rican99’ is a putrid character. He begins flailing his racism, homophobia and misogyny around the stage. Soon he is met by a bizarrely Kafkaesque character in a white collar shirt, who refuses to reveal his intentions, and begins to interrogate the @R3alAm3rican99 for his part in the January 6th assault on the Capitol.
What unfurls is a deep dive into the radicalised mind of, what was before, an ordinary man. Interludes from brash, tasteless and hateful YouTube videos give us an entry point as to how minds are driven toward baseless conspiracy theories. This is never much expanded on, as the play chooses to instead focus on @R3alAm3rican99’s relationship with the women in his life. The focus on misogyny within radicalisation is a unique take which I was pleased to see given a platform, though it takes some time for the show to unpack its link to White Nationalist ideology.
We travel through the central character’s sado-masochistic relationship with a woman named Bella, raising issues surrounding consent and the creeping onset of domestic violence. We hear of his strained and estranged relationship with his mother, which is placed in a beautifully-crafted ironic contrast to @R3alAm3rican99’s beliefs. He claims that “some girls just have Daddy Issues” and this uncovers the violent and false implication that they want to be treated abusively because of it.
The performances, especially from Rhys Anderson in the central role, are exceptional throughout. Anderson’s character is a shoddy orator, parroting lines found within the depths of Reddit threads and 4chan, but Anderson maintains a masterful control over the character’s vulnerabilities. He captures well the essence which we see in many radicalised people. It is an unwavering belief leading to an impulsive need to beat down anything which doesn’t confirm to a falsely constructed worldview.
One of the stand-out dramatic moments of the play is a sex scene in which Bella, who is not played by an on-stage character, is heard being abused by @R3alAm3rican99. Under a blaring red light, so-called ‘dirty talk’ is played with a monotone voice. It’s a chilling insight into consent within relationships. As we drive headfirst into the events of January 6th, the connection between becoming a misogynistic animal and hating innocent foreigners emerges, just in time for a reflective twist to gut-punch us.
The twist, without saying too much, looked like it was heading in a very interesting direction at the beginning, but sadly didn’t completely resolve the story for me. The piece is a slow burner, and perhaps burns a little too slowly to unlock the tension in an impactful way in its final act. Perhaps its an interesting take – much like the baseless conspiracies in which the hateful put their trust, the story unravels into threads rather than meeting a neat and significant end.
Beg For Me is a nascent, powerful exploration of the intersection between misogyny and far right hatred. Rosa Maria Alexander’s script holds no punches, revealing the vicious and sadistic false worldviews of the so-called ‘Alt Right’. The performances are top tier and its relentlessness exposes the incredulity of extreme hatred in America today. Beg For Me‘s bare-all grit is grounded in a nasty reality, one it takes time and care to expose.
Recommended Drink: Beg For Me is like a Zombie cocktail – it wanders you into an alleyway and sucker-punches you with its strength and intensity.
Catch Beg For Me during EdFringe every day between August 5th and 29th, except the 15th, at 13:00 in Underbelly, Bristo Square, Jersey. Tickets are available through the EdFringe Box Office.