Girls Like That by Evan Placey
Leading Light Theatre Company
This play takes us to the heart of a clique of schoolgirls, compared by their own leader to vicious animals, as a naked photo of one girl, Scarlett, is spread throughout their school. This topical, heartbreaking, funny and beautiful show is a knowing look back at the terror and claustrophobia of being at school. But, it reminds us, there is always a way out. Thanks to its final monologue, a lesson for the present delivered in the context of a school history lesson, Girls Like That is ultimately uplifting.
The performers created the characters of the clique from a script that was originally a cascade of unattributed lines. From this, they embody girls who are at once humorously stereotypical and scarily realistic. Though we recognise character types (like the goth, the pushy and smarmy leader and the geek), we also see the flip side of these stereotypes and the anxiousness behind them. As the girls try to exonerate themselves for bullying Scarlett, they cannot help showing us their hypocrisy. Coupled with this are hints that any of them could have become a victim of the shaming they have directed at her. As Scarlett delivers her monologues alone, she tells intriguing, compelling stories that at first seem to provide us with what is simply an alternative world and an escape from the bullying – but which are brought suddenly right up close to home.
They are all compelling – and so when they give the audience a photo of a naked man to pass around, we all do. Without thinking. Maybe we know what’s going on and we do so wryly. But then so do some of them. Handing us the photo and letting it pass from one to another becomes a deft gesture that shows how close to us all the story is.
***** – 5 stars