- July 4, 2019
Evan Placey’s extraordinary script for schools is one of the toughest and best dramas I have seen this year. It pulls no punches as it talks about the fierce and tribal nature of young girls as they grow from childhood into puberty and on to womanhood. It takes the current theme of online bullying and exposes the cruel nature of young girls, their cliques, their attitudes to sex and to boys and to… well to life in general. And it’s not a pretty play, the laughs are born of embarrassment rather than gags and there is genuine discomfort in the room as the plot unravels before us. It is deeply upsetting and at the same time thought provoking and it probes the female condition without fear.
The performances are fearless too and once again Apollo productions in the excellent hands of Katy Markey pull off a truly impressive feat. Working with young girls must be har, especially given the raw nature of this piece but there is some real talent on that platform and Ms Markey milks it for what it’s worth – and it’s worth a lot.
The form of the play is punctuated by some excellent dance numbers that rather than being overtly sexual simply hint at emerging sexuality. There are four inset moments that explore women’s roles in society and society’s attitude to women from the 1920s to the 1980s and each offers a poignant view of how the female role has survived prejudice. There are a few liberties taken with the time frame here, flower power did not emerge really until the late 1960s, but I can forgive this. What I didn’t like was that some of the older members of the cast had too much make-up which altered the way I looked at them when they were playing the younger roles and was not necessary when they played the older parts.
Sixteen young women take to the stage to make this finely tuned ensemble piece work, and work it certainly does but two young women really stand out. Lois Regan has the less than easy role of Scarlet, the butt of all the bullying and with perhaps the least to actually say she has the most to convey and this she does beautifully. And Ava Howe is certainly a name to look out for in the future, a tiny figure on the stage but one with a huge presence, a totally convincing and engaging performance from someone so young.
Apollo Productions once again show just how much can be achieved by working with young and emerging talents.
The Theatre @ Citycoast Centre