A story surely reminiscent of many millions of One Direction fans the world over, The Crazy Sexy Cool Girls’ Fan Club follows a group of girls who connect as a result of their shared love for ‘The Band’, an unnamed force that provokes hysterical reactions in its teenage fans. Performed by Key Youth Theatre as part of the National Theatre’s Connections festival, it offers a humorous look at young life and is certain to provoke memories of teenage fan hysteria to young and old alike.
Arriving at the Dorfman Theatre felt a bit like arriving at a family party; the Peterborough-based young theatre group were clearly out in force which made for a buzzy and vibrant atmosphere that prevailed throughout the show. The excitable nature of the local crowd encompassed the entire audience, regardless of whether they actually knew anyone involved with the production, and this excitement continued on stage where it was clear the young cast had a brilliant time making and performing this show.
Arguably the biggest strength of this play is Sarah Solemani’s script; it has laugh-out-loud moments in abundance and gave the talented young cast the ability to make the show their own; the biggest example of this being that Key Youth Theatre had written the (extremely catchy) song which ‘The Band’ performs, called ‘Baby, Baby, Baby’ themselves. Solemani has intelligently crafted this customisation into the script, allowing future youth groups who put on the production to get creative in their production of the show – something so important in getting young people engaged in making and performing quality theatre.
The young cast of the show performed with confidence and were all clearly very well prepared for the task in hand. Two members particularly stood out to me; Alice Welby who gave an incredibly funny and natural performance as fan club member Lou, and Louise Garwood as Paula whose scene involving her attempt to get a picture with band member Sam Gamble really was my highlight of the play. This may have been their first time performing at the National Theatre, but I would certainly not be surprised to see them back on stage here in the future.
Set design, though simple, was very effective and allowed the script and young company to take centre stage. A small platform is placed at the back of the set, and the use of lighting, crowd cheers and fog create a real sense of a boyband concert when ‘The Band’ appears. The use of toy dolls to represent the band at certain points was very clever and interestingly demonstrated the sense of ownership so many teenage fans feel over their favourite bands.
An immensely fun evening of high quality youth theatre, National Theatre Connections and Key Youth Theatre have done a brilliant job in providing an accessible and exciting new show to inspire the next generation of performers and theatregoers. The Crazy Sexy Cool Girls’ Fan Club provides an intelligent and witty look at one of the biggest phenomenons of the modern age and I hope to see it become a staple for youth groups all over the country.
The Crazy Sexy Cool Girls’ Fan Club played as part of Connections at the National Theatre, running until 6 July. For tickets and more information, see the National Theatre website.