Presented by Adelaide Festival Centre
Reviewed 16th June 2018
Fangirls is an upcoming original musical by Sydney playwright Yve Blake, under commission by the Australian Theatre for Young People. Set to premiere in early 2019, we are offered a rare workshop performance at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival this season.
The workshop is a stripped back version of Blake’s musical creation – with a somewhat condensed storyline, no set design, and skeleton crew. Seven cast members play multiple characters, and are supported by five chorus members, who sing with a recorded soundtrack. Director Paige Rattray acts as narrator between scenes. The ensemble reads through the book and music while sitting in two semi-circles of chairs. Despite this formal structure, the comedic genius of Blake’s plot and lyrics shines through. The cast must be applauded for fitting so much vivacity and humour into their performances.
Blake plays our fourteen-year-old heroine, Edna. Edna’s life revolves around beloved boy-band True Connection, and its lead singer Harry. She bonds with her school friends over their shared obsession with the band, and spends her afternoons writing fan fiction. She shares her creations with an online forum, where stories range from basic fairy tales to bizarre zombie apocalypse dramas. Nobody Loves You Like Me describes the exquisite torture of being in love with a pop star who does not know you exist, as the chorus sings: “You ruined my life and made my day”.
When True Connection announces an Australian tour, Edna and her friends are momentarily elated. But cruel reality sets in when they realise that tickets cost $149.95 each. Fits of adolescent depression sweep the nation. As the chorus points out, what teen has that kind of money? Friendships are broken and sanity takes a vacation as everyone feels the strain of the approaching concert. Edna shows her true strength and fortitude as she concocts a wild plan to finally meet her idol, Harry.
Fangirls explores the inner strength and resilience of teenage girls, all while delivering jokes too true to resist. The pop-music soundtrack and modern-style choral accompaniment create something upbeat and entirely new. Until next year when the full musical premieres, we must be satisfied with this rare glimpse into the production process.
Reviewed by Nicola Woolford
Rating (out of 5): 5
One night only – season ended