Alternative Theatre Company
Holden Street Theatres
Until 12 Jun 2022

Review by Holden Ward

“Girls Like That” was written in 2013 by British-Canadian playwright, Evan Placey, and is presented as a single act, ensemble production. The plot revolves around the fallout from a naked picture of a schoolgirl Scarlett, after it is shared online and goes viral. In this context, the play touches on sadly familiar themes, such as the “pecking order” of young female peer groups, body shaming, revenge porn, and the passive bystander effect.

In this competent production from the Alternative Theatre Company, the character of Scarlett is rarely personified in the play, which served a compelling dramatic purpose for the audience to be able to empathise with her, despite her invisibility. Scarlett was incessantly talked about yet was largely without a voice.

The set was as stark as you can get. Essentially a blank, black stage with three blank, black walls, and seven black chairs. With such a stark backdrop, the other theatrical elements were more exposed which can easily create a degree of risk in an amateur theatre production. Fortunately, this production was tightly directed by Daniel Hamilton, with good pacing and blocking, and very effective lighting from Ellen Damaggd.

The ensemble cast of seven were all of a consistent and competent standard. Placey’s script would have presented several challenges for the actresses – as an ensemble, no single actress gets to stand out, or develop their characters to a deep degree. At the same time, there are significant complexities in jumping in and out of teenage female roles, to swap genders, age levels or time periods, whilst remaining in school uniform outfits the whole time. Occasionally, the historical “flashback” type scenes were hard to follow in terms of their relevance, although some clarity emerged within the play’s conclusion. The play’s occasional fight scenes were well choreographed.

“Girls Like That” succeeds in its intention to invite the audience to observe and reflect on the confronting, yet familiar themes. Anyone above the age of 13 will find plenty of relatable material here, even a few laughs, and the social commentary is largely concerned with how young females relate to each other, and the negative aspects of the adolescent world of virtual communication. Additionally, one of the play’s lines: “in between doesn’t exist” aptly summed up the often polarising nature of social media.

“Girls Like That” has a short run of four shows however, all involved can draw much confidence from this decent production, which bodes well for future performances from Alternative Theatre Company.