This is the story of three best friends negotiating the treacherous landscape of girlhood.
Ideas of love, sex, religion and female identity jostle each young woman, pulling at them from all angles, fighting to be attended to. Such is life growing up girl. On paper this is yet another tale in the long chronicle of womanhood.The friendship that binds these three young women is nothing out of the ordinary – indeed, we could experience such a bond in any city or any country on any continent. But this is not just any story. These are not just any girls.
When Tisana, Ruhab, and Haleema are kidnapped, their shared world is turned unceremoniously upside down and the girls must rely on each other more than ever before in order to get by. Captured and taken away from their families, their village and everything they’ve ever known, Girls sees them learn about themselves at the same time they’re forced to learn about a whole new world.
Just as the girls are spared the details by their captors and left not knowing where they are, what’s going on and if they are to survive, the audience is forced to fill in the blanks. We cling to vague hints and subtle clues, interpreting sound effects and glimpses of stolen conversations. Nothing is certain and we’re left jumping to conclusions, working out the information as if we too are scared young women, kept too long in the dark.
It’s incredible that a performance involving little to no props, costume changes or even performers can provide such a captivating experience. In this way, Girls holds no pretences and no unnecessary frills or frivolities. Instead, the play pans out over a gruelling 90 mins with a backdrop as sparse and barren as the amenities the girls are forced to make do with during their time in captivity. This is not to be said about the soundtrack – the harrowing, gut-wrenching and almost too-loud soundscape illustrates the passing of time, sending the audience into fits of sporadic surprise. This, accompanied by clever lighting creates a richer tapestry of performance than any detailed scenery could, and promises to haunt the audience long after the lights have faded up.
Wrought with unimaginable trauma and tackling serious issues in a surprisingly lighthearted way, Girls packs an undeniable punch. Indeed, those looking for a relaxing and uplifting experience will be sorely disappointed. Controversial and realistic beyond belief, the gripping performance holds you tightly on edge right up until its shocking climax.
Winner of the Alfred Fagon Award (2015) and George Devine Award (2016) Theresa Ikoko’s Girls is a tale of enduring friendship in the face of loss, despair and above all, survival.
Find out more: http://www.sohotheatre.com/whats-on/girls/
Soho Theatre, 21 Dean Street, London W1D3NE