'Girl World' at Platform
When the time came to leave to see Girl World last week, I was dragging my heels. I’d wrapped myself up in blankets like a lil burrito, and the thought of unwrapping myself gave me a headache. Honestly, if the show hadn’t been called Girl World I would’ve succumbed to the fleecy folds but, ever a sucker for some lady energy, I steeled myself my to the cold outside and put my shoes on. Fast forward an hour and things were looking up. I’d plonked myself down next to a woman who’d brought a bottle of Prosecco and like 40 plastic cups, and she was pouring me a glass. I accepted it thirstily and said something cringe like ‘If this is Girl World I’m never leaving am I right???’ which was actually a weirdly prescient thing to say considering the show that followed.
See, in Girl World there’s never any reason to leave. I mean, who would abandon an iridescent, irreverent world in which you can enact all your wildest dreams with just your best friend for company, right? It’s a safe haven for its inhabitants Tilly (Camille Dawson) and Inga (Serena Ramsey), who have no contact with the outside world, and whose best-friendship is absolutely enough for both of them. That is until it isn’t. When they discover a hole in the fabric of their world, Tilly wants to see what’s on the other side, but Inga wants to stay safe in their bubble. What ensues is a messy, confusing coming-of-age story.
Girl World is a mad, technicolour place, made real by production designers and artists Ranya El-Refaey, Olivia Douglass, and Pam Tait. It’s abstract and absurd and ridiculous, but it’s a world I recognised instantly. The stabs of nostalgia I got watching the two girls play are the same I’d get hearing B*Witched ‘C’est La Vie’, or The Queen’s Nose theme tune. When Tilly wants to leave Girl World, leaving Inga feeling betrayed, I recalled in perfect HD the wrenching sensation that my friends and I shared as we hit puberty one after the other, pulling away from each other one minute, grasping each other closer the next.
It’s a wild ride (we’re talking giving birth to octopus babies before stabbing them in the head, worshipping a deity named Fatnaboona who wants her followers to party, and eating the brains of monkeys), but Dawson and Ramsey keep us on course. They both capture the multitudes of girlhood: innocent and subversive all at the same time, sweetly ignorant of the outside world, yet instinctively sharpening their dick chopper-offers (yep, ya heard me). Dawson takes on the role of the (comparatively) straight-woman yearning for something more, which gives Ramsey’s the space to really bring the noise. She absolutely kills it with some wild physical comedy that leaves all vanity at the door. I’m usually very conservative with my laughs, guys, particularly when I’m solo, but at more than one point during this performance I had to apologise for snorting in my neighbour's face.
All that’s not to say that the play is totally without faults, or at least without threads that could have been pulled at a little more. I’m torn about the presentation of Girl World itself as pink and sparkly. I’ve already admitted that it’s a world I recognised, so this idea of girlhood is as much a part of the fabric of my experience as it is of Dawson’s, but the essentialist view of young girlhood as, well, girly, gave me pause. What would Boy World look like? Blue, with disco balls swapped for footballs? Perhaps in 2017 we shouldn’t be delineating those worlds so sharply.
That said, for a first production from Frisky, Girl World should be commended to the highest for its explosive energy. It’s bold, it’s imaginative, and it clearly resonated hugely with its (overwhelmingly female-identifying) audience. I might have laughed snortily throughout, but when Tilly and Inga made that first tentative move from girlhood to whatever it is that comes next, I shed a little tear, and not just because I’d necked a pint of Prosecco before it started.
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