BWW REVIEW: FANGIRLS Is A New High Energy Comedy Thriller Musical That Reminds Us Girls Are Capable Of So Much More Than What Society Wants Them To Think.
Wednesday 16th October 2019, 7:30pm, Belvoir St Theatre
Yve Blake's (writer, composer and performer) new Australian musical FANGIRLS challenges audiences to chose to help create a society that stops telling girls that all they can aspire to is to be pretty and partnered off. Exposing the double standards of how boys and girls are treated encouraged, this often bizarre comedy thriller is bought to life with Paige Rattray's delightful direction.
FANGIRLS centers on the 14 year old Edna (Yve Blake), a typical teenager who, like most of the female teenage population around the world, is in love with Harry (Aydan), the leader of international boyband True Connection. Edna, who lives with her mother Caroline (Sharon Millerchip), spends her time writing fanfiction about Harry for her online friends like Saltypringl (James Majoos) from Utah when she isn't studying to maintain her scholarship or with schoolfriends and fellow misfits boy obsessed Jules (Chika Ikogwe) and late bloomer Brianna (Kimberly Hodgson). Convinced that she knows Harry better than anyone else she seeks to free him from his life when True Connection perform in Sydney but nothing quite goes to plan.
Designer David Fleischer has delivered but sparkly bare stage bordered by screens for various video content of still images, animation and expansive collages of multitudes of YouTube videos of young fans around the world all feeling they are talking or singing directly to the pretty-boy pop star. Locations like Edna's bedroom and the school locker rooms are represented with simple set dressing, temporarily wheeled on or delivered by more unusual methods. The costume design allows the ensemble of Ayesha Madon, Mellissa Russo, Millerchip, Majoos, Ikogwe, and Hodgson to take on the other characters like the rest of True Connection, schoolgirls, internet friends and rock concert security with a series of wigs and different clothing.Whilst FANGIRLS focuses on the current generation of teens obsessed with often overly commercialized contemporary pop singers, aided with the technology of social media, there is a timelessness of the devotion and the misconception that the celebrity is speaking direct to the listener rather than simply laying down lyrics that will generate record sales. The work speaks to the issue that has prevailed for generations that tells girls that their value lies in looks, popularity and possessions and being in a relationship. Through the lyrics the double standards applied to girls and boys is highlighted by the way girls are considered weird for wanting to see their idol whereas boys are not considered strange for obsessing over sports stars.
With high energy music delivered under Alice Chance's music direction and fabulously fun choreography by Leonard Mickelo, FANGIRLS gives the audience a taste the fictional concert along with a way forward to the realization of self-acceptance and better respect for the abilities of women no matter how old. Often cheesey but always relatable, either thinking back to our own youth or what we've seen in the adolescents around us, FANGIRLS has a delightful honesty as it exposes the challenges young girls face, thinking that their world will end if they don't find a boyfriend or develop curves, with a balance of respect for the girls emotions and amusement at the absurdity of their passions when considered from a more mature position of wisdom.
FANGIRLS is a fun new Australian musical and holds an important message for young girls and anyone that has any influence on shaping their world, which is everyone that is part of society. Definitely worth catching.
Photos: Brett Boardman