Writer: Liam Hallahan
Director: Paul Doran
Reviewer: Ciarán Leinster
REDPILL is arguably as timely as a piece of contemporary theatre can be, seeking to explain, as it does, one of the most bizarre, dangerous, and popular, online communities. That community is, generally speaking, men who have been “redpilled”, ie have come to understand that the reason they are unsuccessful in relationships with women is not their own flaws, but the “fact” that women explicitly set out to damage “nice guys”, who “deserve” the affection of their female friends.
The piece is a one-man show, featuring only Liam Hallahan. His principal character is Ben, who is obsessed with Japanese cartoons, dancing to which helps his pain of rejection by women. Ben is gradually introduced to Reddit. Here he details the horror of his relationships with women. He discovers the power he gains by leaking naked pictures of his former friend turned love interest, and his relentless abuse of her on Twitter, reaches the point that she closes her account. This transformation is not handled as humanely as it could be, and the plot is predictable to anyone familiar with this community, but the piece itself is affecting, deep, and true.
Hallahan is a thoughtful and energetic writer and performer, inhabiting different characters and styles with ease, although he does occasionally strain for the easy laugh. These are tempered by the fact that many of the laughs are dark enough to provoke groans and sighs, however. He reads forums, shown in blurry screens behind him, which, accompanied by the sounds of typing and message alerts, create an experience that goes beyond simply one man with different voices and stances.
REDPILL is a vivid portrayal of how one can be led down a corridor of hatred and ignorance by a faceless online identity. It also portrays the need for power, of any kind, on behalf of people who seek solace in online abuse. While the precise nature of its issues are more pertinent to the US than to Ireland, there is much to learn from, and enjoy, in this account of a voyage through fear, anger, rejection, and manipulation.
Runs until July 29th 2017 | Image: Richy O’ Connell