We need to talk about Nate.
Nate could be held up at the front of a cultural studies lecture at a liberal university as the model of toxic masculinity in the flesh. Of course, he’d enter on his fun-sized motorbike, marker-made chest hair flowing in the breeze, Bad to the Bone a-blasting, just as he does at his show at the Pleasance.
Nate is Natalie Palamides’ second album show, following up to last year’s Best Newcomer award-winning Laid. But while Laid looked at all things woman – from birth, to motherhood, to eggs – Nate is all beer chugging, pube exposing, ultra machismo man. There’s murmurs of #MeToo throughout this year’s Fringe, but Palamides takes a look at the movement from the other side – and she doesn’t shy away from the murky grey stuff that is usually pushed under the carpet in favour of a clean cut, good vs bad rhetoric.
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Don’t worry, though. Nate knows all about consent. He manages to sweet talk an audience member into allowing him to give him a squeeze under the premise that it’s okay “because he asked”. He loves women and he’s heartbroken over his ex. Who he repeatedly refers to as a whore. Consider the slippery slope primed.
A fantastically physical performer, Palamides gets the laughs rolling with ease for the first half of the hour. After this, things start to get a little more complex as the recently dumped Nate, so pathetic he’s nearly sympathetic, makes a move on his art teacher (an onstage mannequin voiced by Palamides) and a drunken incident between the two opens up some debate on what constitutes consent. Technically, this scene isn’t the tightest, the bulky mannequin causing some difficulties, but the message is there all the same. It’s slapstick yet uncomfortable, and leaving the venue I was desperate for someone to talk about it with. Palamides should be applauded for having the balls – figuratively and literally, in the form of a rubber penis – to tackle the less polished parts of the #MeToo conversation.
Natalie Palamides: Nate at Pleasance Courtyard Aug 8-26 (not 13), £13