Brighton Fringe 2016
Here is a show that serves up a large slice of satire, washed down with a good dose of humour, by ten young teenage girls, ably directed by Helen Jones with a script carefully crafted by Zella Compton. This show is a clear indicator that we live in a culture that teaches girls to judge their worth based on their appearance rather than their abilities.
‘How to Be a Girl,’ is the title of a magazine with a multitude of advice provided to its teenage girl readers, often contrasted by adverts on the same page that humorously conflict with the advice provided by the editor; all of which creates a dichotomy for its young readers whose demographic are the main target audience for this performance. The expectations for these teenagers are to be beautiful and even sexually active; no matter at what the cost to themselves or their dignity. But then, the by-line of the magazine exhorts its readers is to be ‘Hot, Sweet, Sexy, Cute!’
It’s all a lot of fun and quite light-hearted. Yet beneath the sweet veneer of this publication, which could be one of many on the market today, we begin to see unmasked the sheer confusion of being a young person in today’s modern society, and in particular, a girl. We could argue that never before has so much pressure been put on young people to conform to the expectations of the media, social media and their peers. The expectations are great and the pressure to conform, is at times overwhelming.
Here, is a show that serves up a large slice of satire washed down with a good dose of humour by ten young teenage girls, ably directed by Helen Jones with a clever script carefully crafted by Zella Compton. This show is a clear indicator that we live in a culture that teaches girls to judge their worth based on their appearance rather than their abilities. In addition, girls get the mixed message that they should ‘be themselves,’ but also be perfect – not to mention ‘hot!’ Here we have the recipe for many a crisis, as young people seek to navigate their course through the teenage years and into adulthood.
Perhaps a short word about the venue, which is a friendly pub environment, where a small performance area is separated off by a curtain. Although one sensed the pub customers did their best to keep down the chatter, sitting in the back row, it was hard to hear some of the performers against this background noise and the small stage always felt slightly cramped for ten people. A space, I would suggest, more suited to cabaret style performances and music.
In conclusion, whilst the show unmasks the many difficulties faced by the young people of today, solutions are somewhat few and far between. However, this piece of theatre helps to unmask the ridiculous expectations that are being forced upon young girls of today and will hopefully assist many into the self-realisation that these need not be heeded. That message is loud and clear.