Maria Telnikoff is a total revelation in this daringly personal, self-penned show about writing the ‘next Great Female Novel’.

Leaning fully into the literary, her personal anecdotes of the thirteen men she’s shagged drip with references to Catullus (pederast), the Odyssey (a gap year ‘shagathon’) and Dickens — so many great first lines but sadly none with the word ‘clitoris’ in them.

The classical background is strong, with a Greek sense of emotional grandeur, and the strength of her emotions heightened to a majestic pitch with some brilliantly whimsical similes (‘He looked at me like a cowboy who could see the future’) and sensually interwoven dance sequences. These capture both the absurdity and expanse of the sexual act, giving us moments of pure emotion scored to a perfectly curated playlist of Gen-Z bangers.

This is a meta-masterful showcase of an incredibly talented performer that reels its audience in with its uncompromising honesty: hilariously overblown projections of her own future success, delightfully absurd pickup dialogue, and wry analyses of courtship and casual sex that has the audience in stitches. It’s big, bold and unapologetically clever — the perfect blend of educated and lived.

Rarely is solo theatre this uncompromisingly intelligent. Telnikoff skewers herself as much as the stupidity of patriarchal legacies and she hits commanding and vulnerable with a dextrous turn that never ceases to surprise. Emotional details are covered with self-awareness and a playful physicality that matches silliness with sensuality — the whole thing is a technicolour patchwork of classical, literary, absurd, emotional, clownish, and comedy elements that add up to deliver far beyond its promise.

All the Men Are Going to Hate Me did not make me hate her — in fact, quite the opposite. There’s something incredibly powerful in the portrayal of detachment and conflict in love, the desire to turn experience into art. We’ve all been there. Sex is messy as fuck — but unendingly funny.

With a little bit of tightening, this show could be a runaway hit. It’s certainly a brilliant showcase for a bold new talent and a whole lot of fun.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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