Girls Will Be Girls

Mon 14th – Sat 26th August 2017

reviews

Simona Ivicic

at 12:19 on 18th Aug 2017

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Girls Will Be Girls’ is exactly what you’d expect from a typical all girls private school. Talk of boys, sex, Instagram, weight loss and grades. With their hopes set on Oxford University, we witness seven girls come together to address their individual but very real struggles. Surprisingly, the play undertakes and does justice to some more serious topics; this adds a sense of depth that is unexpected from what initially seemed would be a purely girly and whimsical comedy. The way 'Girls Will Be Girls' confronts feminism, socio-economic privilege and racism is deliberately poignant and thought provoking as the characters challenge each other and assertively debate their views on these subjects.

For anyone who received his or her a-level results yesterday, you will be able to relate to this play in every way. Their nervous snappiness and anxiety is evident, but is softened by the script's witty banter and clever quips that lighten the mood whilst giving a genuine insight into student life. We have Ella Langley to thank for this incredible balance of a sobering reality and farcical brilliance. What is more Langley and Hannah Chukwu’s directorial collaboration is epitomised in the schoolroom scenes, when each of the girls take it in turns to play teacher. These transitions are so smooth and effortless that it is a pure delight to just sit back and watch these brilliantly sassy and charismatic personalities adopt their brief new personas.

But most impressive of all is director Hannah Chukwu’s performance as Zab. Her impromptu appearance in the show to replace an ill Cat White was seamless and she unquestionably fit the role perfectly. The news at the end that Hannah was not cast for this role was surprising and the fact that we won’t see her as Zab again disappointing. Although the rest of the cast were equally talented, Natasha Sarna playing Reece is definitely one to look out for. Her execution of an intimate monologue describing the suffocating pressure to fit in in such a predatorial landscape and achieve these seemingly unattainable academic expectations, but simultaneously to discover her own identity is intense.

As the title suggests, girls will be girls. But this well-observed piece goes beyond such an oversimplified statement and shows a range of individuals that make you question the nature of identity and what it means to be successful. Is Oxbridge really the only measure of success and the only prize worth having? These snobbish and at times superficial girls definitely seem to think so, however, learn to question it all. With an ending that leaves you begging for more, you’ll definitely not want to give this a miss!

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Anna Ley

at 13:47 on 19th Aug 2017

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What advice would you give your former self? Would they be proud of the person you have become? Powerfully poignant questions that often go amiss surface in this pleasurable yet pensive play. Pulled into the changing currents of the pubescent teenage girl, the magnificently moody masterpiece, ‘Girls will be Girls’ follows seven young women on their journey to a new life at Oxford University. As they relentlessly edit essays, polishing and perfecting to get in to the prestigious school, they too edit themselves to fit the mould of the perfect candidate. Set in the predatorial environment of a single sex school, hunted down by the judgements of peers, parents and teachers, this play flags the nauseatingly familiar experiences of awaiting exam results, self-disgust and waning self-worth. Separate tales beginning at separate breakfast tables, the play builds a bond between a group of girls sharing a common enemy in such social pressures, they suffocation to which erupts into the explosive and exceptionally executed monologue of Reece (Natasha Sarna). Analysing the creative stagnancy of the A4 application of achievements, merely progressing the school’s reputation and ranking, ‘Girls will be Girls’ is a beacon of hope at the end of a ‘horrible, dark, damp endless tunnel’ to which the aspiring Oxford applicants, and all young women, perceive ‘no light at the end’.

Simultaneously playful and poetic, Ella Langley’s lovely new writing is thoroughly thought-provoking, preaching a lesson that the girls hope to bring to workshops across schools during their time in Edinburgh, an encouragement for the self-esteem of all young people. Clumsy, klutzy and stroppy, her communally brilliant cast bring her wonderful writing to life, carrying all the energy of the true teenage experience. Through a plethora of personalities, the spectrum of characters ignites the inner teenage girl within each of its audience members. From the comically cutting comments of Rose (Caitlin Kelly) to the conversation killer Jem (Georgina Botham), there is a caricature of everyone’s teenage self. There was real beauty in the subtleties of the characterisation even when the spotlight wasn’t on them, sewing the whole piece together. Enriched by the audience’s total unawareness that their director (Hannah Chukwu) stepped into the role of Zab just hours prior, a very impressive performance indeed, it was a seamless performance sewn into the folds of femininity with no loose threads.

Littered with the beautiful moments of flashback and throwback, ‘Girls will be Girls’ graces a bond with its audience as much as between themselves. In a heated feminist debate, Reece (Sarna) responds to the suggestion that women should ‘get back in their place’ with ‘as a woman that place certainly isn’t here’, yet the audience of ‘Girls will be Girls’ is exactly where every young woman should be. Engrossingly entwined with the universal experiences of young adults, this play is an epiphany for all teenage girls. With peaks of sentiment amid all its stillness, ‘Girls will be Girls’ is a powerfully moving piece for all its playfulness.

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