Theatre Review: Feminazi (Belvoir St Theatre, Sydney) ★★★★★

I am dead. I know this because our anti-hero Zan (Ziggy Resnick) held my name up on a piece of paper and tore it up to represent all the men she’s killed. Whether it was aimed at me, or at the generically loathed “Chads” of the world is anyone’s guess, but it’s obvious that Zan hates masculinity and is willing to kill to save the world from it. Welcome to Feminazi!

Zan is a self-proclaimed “Hot butch”. The kind of lesbian who’ll seduce your fiancée right before your heterosexual wedding and dump her on your doorstep. Angry at all the ways that women are degraded by the world, how even drag queens manage to appropriate femininity and still have more power than women, how men just fuck up everything, Zan refuses to be silenced. Every altercation is live-streamed on Instagram, turning the rage into carefully chaotic art. She is convinced that the spirit of her dead mother was responsible for the recent passing of her father and she hits on a plan: kill the bad men. And, by the way, all men are bad men.

Ziggy Resnick in Feminazi. Photo credit: Clare Hawley.

The title, Feminazi, is provocative, but that is just the starting place for this surprisingly nuanced and inquisitive play about sexuality and gender. Don’t be fooled into thinking this is a soft play with a tough title. Three people walked out of the performance I was at and the list of content warnings is exhaustive: “biphobia, death, misgendering, murder, sexual assault, internalized homophobia, transphobia, miscarriage, misogyny, misandry, and medical trauma. Includes the use of ableist language, references to suicidal ideation and incest, video depiction of full-frontal nudity and explicit sex scenes.” You have been warned.

Grab your pop-cultural lexicon because Feminazi is rooted in media. The show is broken into chapters each using the imagery of a famous TV show to set the tone (Six Feet Under, Law & Order, White Lotus and Grey’s Anatomy are used to denote a funeral, a run in with authority, a gay bar, and a trip to the doctor). As Zan lists the types of men she wants to kill, famous faces flash up on screen to illustrate them, and some of the connections are deep cuts. 

Ziggy Resnick in Feminazi. Photo credit: Clare Hawley.

The more Zan broadcasts her life and her art, the more we start to strip away the aggression to find the fragile human underneath, despite her best efforts to hide it from us all. A digital native, when faced with a reality she doesn’t like, Zan shouts to pause the moment. Her life revolves around her phone (used to great effect by Resnick, director Danielle Maas, and video team of designer Xanthe Dobbie and video creator and cinematographer Parker Constantine. The stage is littered with devices, with low battery indicators that were giving me as much stress as Zan’s antics.

Shayne de Groot and Ziggy Resnick in Feminazi. Photo credit: Clare Hawley.

Predominately a monologue, the appearance of Zan’s girlfriend Angie (Shayne de Groot) injects an outside perspective into Zan’s all-encompassing worldview. With a calm, almost deadpan delivery, de Groot gives the audience a welcome reprieve and change of pace. Through Angie’s eyes we see past the bluster and cut to the heart of Zan’s blinkered hypocrisy.

Feminazi is about trauma and how we react to it. How the ripples of the trauma we’ve received shape us and the ways we try to hide from it. Playwright Laneikka Denne has given me the piece of personal political theatre that I’d been missing in the Sydney WorldPride cultural mix so far. Darkly amusing, Feminazi digs into the human story behind the screaming and is infinitely richer for it. 

By Chad Armstrong

Feminazi plays at Belvoir St Theatre Sydney from February 22nd – March 11th, 2023. Click here for tickets and more info.

On Wednesday March 8th Feminazi will be presented by Enqueer as part of a lesbian and non-binary folks’ night alongside Belvoir’s production of Blessed Union.

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