An engaging exploration of teenage emotions in the age of social media.
Singer Aydan in Fangirls. Image: Stephen Henry.
Teenagers – adults often look at them, perplexed. Even when we really want to understand them and feel for them, sometimes the communication barrier is too thick. Fangirls opens a peephole into the tumultuous inner world of a teenage girl grappling with her emotions. Edna, a 14-year-old girl, has a crush on Harry, the singer of the world’s biggest boyband. Edna’s world revolves around this impossible love: her mood is dictated by the images of Harry that she sees on social media; Harry is at the centre of Edna’s conversations with her friends; and while under pressure to keep her scholarship, Edna writes fanfiction about Harry as a way of enacting her daydreams.
Fangirls does an excellent job of presenting the indomitable world of teenage girls’ emotions. Yve Blake is commendable as Edna. She perfectly conveys teenage frustration with her elongated words, especially her howling of “maaaam” when her mum (Sharon Millerchip) enters her room. Edna’s friends Jules (Chika Ikogwe) and Brianna (Kimberley Hodgson) bring to life the complications of teenage friendship fraught with social media, peer competition, and shame for a changing body that does not fit societal expectations. And Salty (James Majoors), Edna’s friend whom she interacts with only via screen, reminds us of the positive applications of technology in allowing us to stay connected despite distance.
The show is dynamic and at time interactive. Expect amusing choreographies and fun lyrics that will make you want to shake your body. I was amazed by the talent of the crew of Fangirls.
Worth a mention is also the use of four large background screens which project words from the songs and social media-style images and videos. These screens are particularly effective to reproduce the world of teenagers which is so significantly shaped by technologies and screen communication and interactions.
Fangirls will make you laugh, but also push you to reflect upon the complicated world of emotions inhabited by teenagers. The show is highly recommended for parents who would enjoy a humorous take on their children’s life, and also for adults who remember what it feels like to be a teenager. Fangirls is also a great show for teenagers because it offers them a distanced view of themselves that is funny and engaging.
4 stars out of 5 ★★★★
Presented by Brisbane Festival, Queensland Theatre and Belvoir, in association with Australian Theatre for Young People
Director: Paige Rattray
Vocal Arranger/Music Director: Alice Chance
Music Producer/Sound Design: David Muratore
Dramaturg: Jonathan Ware
Designer: David Fleischer
Lighting Designer: Emma Valente
AV Designer: Justin Harrison
Sound Designer: Michael Waters
Choreographer: Leonard Mickelo
Cast includes Yve Blake, Aydan, Kimberley Hodgson, Chika Ikogwe, Ayesha Madon, James Majoos, Sharon Millerchip
7 September-5 October 2019
Bille Brown Theatre QLD