Review By Lia Cocks
FANGIRLS is a brilliant new Australian musical with book, music and lyrics by the absurdly talented Yve Blake.
First produced by Belvoir and Queensland Theatre in association with Brisbane Festival and Australian Theatre for Young People in 2019, FANGIRLS premieres at the Adelaide Festival with much hype and new cast members.
A musical based on societies fascination with reckless, uncontrollable, and feverish teenagers and their frenzied infatuation with their celebrity boy worships.
It’s not the first story of delusional or uninhibited female obsession, but it is the first to completely encapsulate the very real way the world tries paint young women – that they are ‘weak’ and ‘uncontrollable’ and their passion make them ‘crazy’. Yet their male counterparts are celebrated and revered for showing similar enthusiasm for their football heroes.
FANGIRLS is a compassionate celebration of young women, their excitement, and their influence. A show not just for teenagers, but for their parents, grandparents and basically anyone who has ever had a celebrity crush.
The story centres around 14 year old intellect Edna [portrayed to absolute teenage awkward perfection by Karis Oka], and her fixation on Harry [AYDAN], the lead singer of world’s biggest boy band True Connection. There is cyber talk Harry may leave the group, is being manipulated by his management and is depressed [sound familiar?], but Edna believes only she utterly understands him and can save him from his life of misery.
This is the cause of much friction between Edna and her mum, the fabulous Danielle Barnes, who only wants the best for her daughter, and her friends Jules and Brianna, who are also ‘Harry-hysterical’.
When she’s not at school or studying in order to keep her scholarship and her mum off her back, Edna is holed up in her room and escapes to the internet – full of chat rooms devoted to the hair-god that is Harry.
There she has her cyber BFF, Saltypringl, played magnificently by James Majoos, who together they write psycho fan fiction with Harry at its core.
The ‘fan-fic’ is always based on removing anyone that stands in their way of living a happy ever after with Harry, until the line between fact and fiction becomes blurred with utter mutinous results!
Brianna [Shubshri Kandiah], the insecure, stuck in the middle friend, and Jules [Chika Ikogwe], the controlling, boy preoccupied and slightly narcissistic one, flesh out the teenage scenes with realistic humour and pain. The fab song ‘Disgusting’ is still playing in my mind!
Excellent work by Ayesha Madon as Lily [and she played a host of other characters] especially with her never ending riffs and screlches!
Incredible direction by Paige Rattray – such a fast paced story, but nothing was left unsaid and no information missed.
The stage and set were an absolute delight, with flats used as massive projector screens; turning into chat rooms, suggesting scene changes, and were a huge part of the show, with montages, dissolves and split displays.
The music. Oh the music.
With lyrics by Blake, Music Direction/Vocal Arrangements by Alice Chance and Music Production/Sound Design by David Muratore at the helm, and Dramaturg Jonathan Ware adding another level of theatrical storytelling, these songs are catchy with their mix of pop, electric and gospel.
Just like a real concert.
I feel so privileged to have been able to see FANGIRLS; the creative talent on and behind that stage is mind blowing, and it’s about time a musical of female empowerment, self-love and love as a whole is presented.
Because FANGIRLS is iconic, you’ll be obsessed, and it will give you life.
And love it? You’ll be pregnant with it!