The Beatles Were A Boyband

Aug 22 2023 | By More

★★★★☆       Deeply affecting

Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Venue 24): Fri 18 – Sat 27 Aug 2023
Review by Torya Hughes

The Beatles Were A Boyband, Rachel O’Regan’s Fringe First winning play for F-Bomb Theatre, returns to the Gilded Balloon for a short run this year. Written in the wake of some high profile murders, it sadly still feels relevant a year on.

The play follows the lives of three flatmates, social media influencer Daisy (Melissa McNaught), waitress Violet (Sally Cairns) and their friend Heather (Kirsten Hutchison). When a woman is murdered, they begin to fight back against the misogyny that they see ingrained in society.

Sally Cairns, Melissa McNaught and Kirsten Hutchison. Pic Josie Morrison Young

The script has only a tenuous link to its title, which is explained away with a brief reference to the Beatles becoming popular due to their teenage girl fanbase. However it deals with some very heavy themes of sexual assault, harassment and gender based violence, whilst also managing to work in a lot of humour along the way, including some topical Barbie references.

McNaught is bubbly and effusive as Daisy, who promotes “skinny girl teas” to her thousands of followers, but also shows a bravery and determination to campaign against violence towards women. Some of the most uncomfortable moments in the play come when Daisy’s male followers begin an onslaught of online abuse, the threats and slurs all too familiar to anyone who has ever read a comment section.

Cairns appears to be quite the party animal as Violet, regularly arriving home in the early hours of the morning. However we learn that she actually suffers from depression and walks home with her keys between her fingers, prepared to defend herself.


Hutchinson is the cynical one of the group, scoffing at her flatmates’ addiction to Love Island and gossip. As the play goes on her traumatic experience of reporting a sexual assault is revealed, and she is asked about her weight and her clothing choices rather than for a description of her attacker, leaving her disillusioned with the justice system.

Melissa McNaught, Sally Cairns and Kirsten Hutchison. Pic Josie Morrison Young

The set is overwhelming pink and homely, giving a sense of realism. However a large screen on the back wall is also used effectively to project images from the girls’ phones and animations by Myshkin Warbler, accompanying the voiceovers by sound designer Sean Quinn, illustrating harassment and abuse.

Director Kolbrun Björt Sigfúsdóttir keeps the tone generally light, interspersing the more serious moments with laughter. The company state that their aim was to address challenging subjects without traumatising their audience, and they succeed at this.

The true power of the play comes in those moments where they do touch on the more serious topics though. Daisy reads out shocking sexual assault and harassment statistics, reminding the audience that whilst it may not be all men, it affects almost all women.


Like the animated flowers growing on the screen, gender based violence starts with small acts of misogyny and can spiral into verbal and physical abuse. Female healthcare, menstrual health and contraception are all mentioned, asking why women are still given medical procedures without anaesthesia.

There is no satisfying resolution to the piece. The flatmates challenge each other throughout, debating whether they should speak up and what will happen if they do, and by the end they are still facing threats whilst trying to live their lives.

However this reflects the reality of the world outside the theatre, and F-Bomb provide a programme full of resources for support and ally-ship, calling on the men in the audience to start the movement for change.

Running time: One hour (no interval)
Gilded Balloon Patter Hoose (Doonstairs), 3 Chambers St, EH1 1HT (Venue 24)
Friday 18 – Sunday 27 August 2023
Daily: 7.30pm.
Tickets and details: Book here.

F Bomb Theatre links

Twitter: @fbombtheatre
Facebook: @fbombtheatre
Instagram @fbombtheatre


Melissa McNaught, Sally Cairns and Kirsten Hutchison. Pic Josie Morrison Young



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  1. Lisa malone says:

    Truly emotive and powerful performance, executed superbly in the acting..Truly fabulous