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Published September 20, 2018

When we all signed up for Facebook, it was for silly farming games and jokes about people poking each other; none of us had any idea it would be so consuming, so invasive. I’m not talking about the data mining (although that’s pretty bad), I mean the constant invites to protest rallies, the pics from your friends who all seem to ride their bicycles to quinoa brunches (what the hell is quinoa!?), that one relative who always seemed a bit off at family gatherings and has now been granted a platform to demonstrate just how spectacularly racist they are. It’s exhausting! But, as Anya Anastasia asks in The Executioners, “if you save the environment, and no one sees you do it…did you really?”

The Executioners is a socially conscious cabaret for the social media obsessed, a concept made clear from the very beginning, as Anya streams her arrival on stage and encourages the audience to share and hashtag. She has created for herself a persona that resonates deeply; I’m sure many find watching the news a very harrowing experience (I’m thinking of a certain Cheezel I’m not going to name). Like many of her peers her news comes from headlines on Facebook, Twitter, and other similar websites, and she oft falls into the trap of wanting to change the world without having all of the information or even an idea how.

Photo credit: Kate Pardey

To that note; a great deal of comedy comes from the back-and-forth with her accompanist (and sidekick) Gareth Chin, who is constantly calling her out as she lyrically portrays herself as #woke. One of her opening numbers relates that – among other activities – she changed her Facebook pic to include the French flag (a sign of solidarity after the Charlie Hebdo shooting), and to this, and many other things, Chin asks, “but what did you do?”. There have been, and there will continue to be, many discussions as to the effectiveness of these actions, some going so far as to label it full on “slacktivism”.

Fortunately, the Anya character seems to be genuinely well-meaning, if very overwhelmed, and the ultimate message of the show is a positive one. Even though you may be just one person, and you can’t solve every problem and save the world, you can do your bit, in your own way. But do it for you, and do it because you want to make a difference. Ride your bike, use a canvas bag, smile at your neighbours. Just… don’t do it for the “Like”s!

Photo credit: Kate Pardey

Oh, and there’s also an awesome fight scene.

You could go to The Executioners and feel like that’s enough involvement, but I think you’ll leave it inspired. After, of course, having a good laugh.

The Executioners is at Gasworks Arts Park as part of the Melbourne Fringe Festival, with shows on the Thurs the 20th at 8pm, Tues 25th to Sat 29th (no show on the 28th) at 9:30pm. Full $35, Conc. $30, discount for Members and Groups of 6+.

WARNING: This show contains smoke, and strobe lighting.

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