NSFW is not only an acronym warning against images that are ‘not safe for work’, but it is also a sharp piece of feminist theatre written by Lucy Kirkwood. In this satirical play, Kirkwood utilises the backdrop of modern journalism to deconstruct the all-too-prevalent internal sexism and misogyny existing today.

First up is Doghouse, a men’s magazine known for featuring blown-up shots of female breasts, fully self-aware that no one picks up the mag for its articles. But when junior staff member Sam (George Cobb) unwittingly sanctions the publication of nude photos of an underage girl, the Doghouse team is left scrambling to deal with the fallout. Aidan (Cameron Spain), the sleazy, patronising editor, will do anything to prevent a lawsuit from the girl’s outraged father (Tom Mackie), placing the accountability on everyone except himself and his magazine. Meanwhile, Charlotte (Lucy McIlgorm), the only female employee at Doghouse, clearly disagrees with Aidan’s actions but says nothing to overturn the toxic work environment, which is problematic in its own right. And Sam, consumed by his mistake and wondering if he is a paedophile for approving the photo, has a nervous energy that is endearing, even in his numerous mental breakdowns—his unease with the pervasive misogyny of Doghouse makes him the most likeable character in the entire production.

As the set transforms from the sloppy, testosterone-filled office of Doghouse to the chic and feminine office of Electra, we gain a glimpse into the seemingly opposite world of female-centred journalism. However, Doghouse and Electra are more similar than they are different. Even though Electra claims to serve confident, successful women (with a weakness for shoes), it is, in truth, not at all a female-empowering publication.  Miranda (Abby McCann), the sassy editrix, acts as a foil to Aidan and is just as patronising in her obsession with pointing out the physical flaws in female celebrities. The artificially bubbly atmosphere within Electra is, perhaps surprisingly, as uncomfortable to experience as the crudeness of Doghouse, but the believability of this contradiction is only a testament to the strength of all the actors. It is certainly interesting that in a feminist play, male characters comprise the majority of the cast and that Charlotte and Lucy are just as complicit in perpetuating the climate of female disempowerment—a powerful piece of social commentary, indeed.

NSFW thrives in its contradictions: while chock-full of lewd jokes that make you question whether you should even be laughing in the first place, it is also bookended by the beautiful and ethereal performances of a live choir. Tackling important issues of commercial exploitation, privacy invasion, and internalised misogyny, this production is smartly timed to mark the hundredth anniversary of the year in which British women first gained the right to vote. In the era of ‘Me Too’ as women’s issues are once again brought to the forefront, director Emma Howlett has certainly achieved her goal of leaving the audience with ‘new questions about their reality’. NSFW exposes not only the unflinching truth of a patriarchal society but also the internal problems remaining within modern-day feminism, forcing us to recognize how far we still have to go to achieve true equality. But hopefully, it won’t take us another hundred years to get there.