How To Be A Girl starts with nine young girls, power dressed in black trousers suits. All appear to be in the fifteen to seventeen year old age group, though I am no expert. Together they form a kind of oral representation of a typical girls’ fashion/gossip magazine.
Except for the new Editor, the girls act as though they are a giggling squeaking bunch of airheads while actually making satirical fun of all the junk that is published concerning the latest fads and celebrity gossip. However, what at first seems to be just comedy chatter, does have a very succinct point, which asks, is all this vacuous media rubbish actually harmful to the health of our young, impressionable daughters and sisters? Is the pressure to meet particular stereotypical norms dangerous? Despite the relentless humour and smiles there is an intelligent, sharp cutting edge to the production.
The format of the show is all the girls announce the various magazine sections in unison followed by a single girl taking on the responsibility of giving a brief outline of a particular subject such as reader’s letters, weight issues, besties, make up and depilation. The girls all talk like empty headed junior fashionistas.
Occasionally a girl will nervously break ranks only to be ruthlessly put down by the ultimate argument that boys won’t like it and, by extension, you will never get a boyfriend.
Around fifty years ago a government was brought down and people’s opinions were changed for a generation, by a group of young people performing a satirical show called Beyond The Fringe. On the evidence of this show, there is more than a glimmer of hope, that young people may be beginning to think Beyond the Bullshit.
My message to the cast it don’t give up. You have the talent, now you just need the opportunity. Well done everyone.
The play was brought to the theatre by the director / playwright team, Helen Jones and Zella Compton. They have worked together on many productions including Genghis, Five Beaches, and School of the Dead. Their professed aim is to take emerging talent and push the boundaries of expectation, developing actors confidence, skills and repertoire. On the evidence of this show, this is exactly what they are achieving.
This is How to be a Girl’s, London premiere.
Reviewed by Graham Archer