As Australia’s first cocktail bar and video gaming lounge, Fortitude Valley’s Mana Bar is perhaps the perfect venue for “Tits Or GTFO”, a show described as a journey into female pop-culture obsession. And it is under the watchful eyes of Mario and co, that the audience gathers, on a scattering of stools and smattering of cushions around the ‘you shall not pass’ line marking the performance space.

Though I’m a committed Whovian fangirl, I’m certainly no geek; I don’t know Pokémon, I’m not a gamer (not even ‘girly’ ones like The Sims), I’m not a fan of Marvel (although the new Ant-Man movie looks cool) and I’ve never entered the wizard world of Potter, let alone fan fic. And I know that, as a result, I missed appreciation of many of the night’s mentions. But the show is about more than just presenting a string of pop culture references (which do provide vivid context to its various vignettes). Rather, it aims to explore “the way women immerse in, create from and are changed by the stories we love- and how the world reacts when we speak up about it.”

Based on hours of interviews with real life lady nerds, “Tits Or GTFO” takes the audience from childhood crushes to Cosplay costumes. But like other reviewers, whose reflections I’ve read, I wasn’t initially sure as to the show’s structure and the fact that the series of monologues that are presented are in fact from a range of geek girls and even, as fragmented inclusion, a transsexual.

Ell Ackermann establishes the variety of characters well, not just though simple but clever use of costume pieces, but by distinct characterisation and voice. However, her pausy apprehension of some dialogue delivery and many lost lines cut into cohesion when they so easily could have been more effectively covered up as conversation. And if you are going to set the room up with distinct levels of seating, the show really should be played equally to them both.

During her 45 minute performance, Ackermann shows us (on the stools) how fangirls are made to feel marginalised in the nerd community, ostracised from online gaming, harassed while cosplaying and ultimately forced into silence. She tells us (through initial mockery) of the misogyny of the geek worlds, but does little more than inform the audience of its existence. How wonderful it would have been to see a conclusion embedded with a message of empowerment. Indeed, at times, the show seems to lack clear message. Stereotyping of protagonists is lamented, yet embraced in the presentation of an anecdote of a teenage Goth girl’s encounter with Beavis and Butt-head type teen boys at a gaming store.

I wanted to love this show; its premise sounds interesting and seems primed with potential. But I feel that it needs more work to truly tackle its issues and leave a lasting impression of answers as much as questions. However, the wordnerd in me loved to hear a final line about semicolons, so I am sure there is still hope.

This review is based on the reviewer’s experience of the performance on May 16.

You can purchase your tickets to “Tits Or GTFO” here