This is a wonderful, disturbing and totally relatable show. By the end, and after a rousing standing ovation, the performers had gained quite a few new fangirls themselves.
A home-grown Australian play, this piece tells the story of Edna, a 14-year-old girl completely besotted by Harry, the leading member of a boy band. Her friends, both at school and on the internet, share her devotion, although perhaps not quite to the same, pathological extent. When she can’t attend Harry’s concert, and her single mum doesn’t understand her dejection, Edna takes her destiny into her own hands.
The performances in this show were absolutely terrific: the cast completely captured their characters and the stress of teenage girlhood. A particular standout was James Majoos as Saltypringl, Edna’s internet chat room and fan fiction pal. Majoos’ performance was perfect. Chika Ikogwe too completely encapsulated tough-almost-mean-girl-bestie Jules, and the performance was even more impressive when contrasted with all the mini-characters she also played, from news presenter to chav e-friend. Similarly, Sharon Millerchip who plays Edna’s mum as well as a whole host of minor bits moved between her middle-aged character and, for example, boy band flunkey effortlessly. The whole ensemble was very well cast.
The show could not, however, have happened at all without Yve Blake, who not only wrote the whole thing, but also stars as Edna. Such talent in one person is truly annoying, in the nicest possible way. Blake’s story is engaging, and could have taken a very dark turn at one point before suddenly veering, much to the relief of the audience. But it is absolutely the songs – and they lyrics in particular – that make the show. They are real earworms that will tickle the audience for days, but most importantly they’re clever. The songs deliver some serious messages about the reality young girls face, without being overly preachy and detracting from the fun of the show. Blake delivers her songs with real oomph and pizzazz, but most importantly with a freedom and unselfconsciousness that is a real joy to watch. Blake is an artist to watch, as she is absolutely going places.
Special mention should also go to costume and set design. The play made wonderful use of the digital screens framing the performance – the zombies were a particular favourite. The use of technology to assist with the story without taking it over was very well done. The costumes too were just great – the sparkly togs with silver boots were iconic, but the smaller details such as the mum’s cardigan over her scrubs were a really lovely touch.
'Fangirls' is a show not to be missed.
'Fangirls' plays Queensland Theatre's Bille Brown Theatre until 5 October. It then heads to Belvoir Theatre (Sydney) from 12 October-10 November.