Clickbait is a play by Milly Thomas, a compelling and powerful play about women and the sex industry, still very much a taboo subject as there are so many facets to the porn industry that are not challenged and simply not spoken about; as it is still seen as a male dominated industry.
Clickbait is being shown at Theatre503 in London, and as I entered l was greeted by nice comfy seats and fairy lights – my idea of heaven. The theatre is a good size with rows of seats and a relatively large stage, the first scene was set in a bedroom in the sisters’ house, a double mattress on the floor, as the play progressed after the interval, the bed had gone and there was an office and narration from actors in animal masks, there was also audio, which gave the play a nice touch.
It is a play that does not hold back, it tells you the story of three young sisters, and their own individual journeys and their respective relationships with one another; a story which also tests their commitments to each other. It is a play about education, control and lack of control; it shows the faults when things go wrong and how they stumble over dealing with complaints, eg, when a customer didn’t want her video to go online.
It is a story about porn and the internet, how porn has changed over the years from asking for the sex mags on the top shelf of a newsagents to engaging with sex immediately online, and the new challenges that brings.
We have the three central characters Nicola Baker (Georgia Groome), the middle sister, Gina the eldest (Amy Dunn), and Chloe (Alice Hewkins), the youngest who is still at school. Nicola is in a relationship with Adam, and she learns that she is going to be a victim of revenge porn, filmed at an end of holiday party. Nicola’s loyal and loving boyfriend Adam has no idea about her recent encounters.
As a result of the potential footage about to be posted online, she posts it herself, and hence Protest is born, a business idea that all the sisters and even Adam are involved in, working legitimately within the porn industry setting up their own company and business. Protest is about sex, it is a home movie booth, that has no links to prostitution; a service to make sex fun without the strings or emotional attachments.
It is a way to eventually make revenge porn a redundant concept, (in the right direction in any event as it is now a criminal offence). Protest allows for participants to post their videos, they sign an agreement saying all parties are happy and videos can be posted online without it being a statement of revenge.
The booths are for fun, for having sex, and making it fun and not a boring chore; it is about both sexes having fun with sex. There is a line in the play that simply says ‘my name is Nicola Barker and I am a feminist’. That line sums Clickbait up very well, as Nicola has started Protest to stop herself and others feeling ashamed about sex.
With Protest the person who attends the booth and engages with the sexual activities is liberated, they are in control not the other way round from an angry partner, or rival.
Adam is a fairly weak partner, he loved Nicola and could not face up to her reality, although he stood by her in her business plans, it was a complete role reversal for him; where the women were strong and liked the business of the porn industry. The youngest sister Chloe was gung-ho and stepped outside a safe domain, where she was a child and wanted to become more involved than the adults. This brings its own dangers from the child sex industries and the risks to vulnerable children.
The sign reads in their business premises ‘no judgment’: this is a powerful sign, the words have many different meanings, no judgment of me, of others, how can people judge how do they have the right to judge?
This in many ways is the context of the play, women are judged every day, hence why Nicola mentioned she was a feminist, why would she have to say that if she wasn’t being judged.
Clickbait is a play that liberates, it is fun and serious it doesn’t hold back. It is a raw journey through the sex industries, and is a very enjoyable play, well acted and well written, I would suggest you go and see it
Clickbait is being shown from the 22nd January 2016 to the 17th Feb 2016 at Theatre503, Battersea London.
© Sam Rapp, 2016