Review: Girl World, Platform Southwark

This is Girl World. “A place where girls can be girls. Where no one can make fun of them.”

Written and directed by Camille Dawson and with co-direction by Lucy Mann, Girl World is the first full-length production by newly formed performance collective, Frisky. The pair met while studying Theatre and Film at Bristol University and have been making performance as part of the company Tight Theatre since 2015. Historically, their body of work is playful and provocative with particular concentration on the feminine form. Girl World continues to expose themes in relation to this, following best friends Tilly and Inga as they explore the patterns of sexuality through pre-teen eyes.

The concept for Girl World began when Dawson was only eight years old. When she and her two sisters chanced upon a large roll of wallpaper, they designed a landscape made up of vast effeminate idealisms – a place with only one rule: “No boys allowed”. The play draws on the lineage of these ideas and makes a tangible environment in which this coming-of-age comedy can unfold. With a population of two, the bubble that is Girl World proves to be both magical and wildly claustrophobic. The girls struggle with an infinite curiosity of the opposite sex, so when they find a tear in the border separating them from the rest of society, they are faced with an opportunity to discover things that they have only been able to imagine. With only Tilly ready to embrace this change, which world will they choose?

Designed by Ranya El-Refaey, the set appears as if the mindset of a child has fallen through the ceiling. Streaks of colour cross a backdrop singing of innocence, naming key locations and phrases within the story. A single jelly shoe is suspended from above, turning gently among other miscellaneous items. The image is completed by The Goddess Fatnaboona – a bright orange space hopper – as she burns brightly at the centre of the universe, illuminating a Sacrificing Slab and a naughty step on which you can be as ill-behaved as you please.

Dressed in vibrant layers of clothing, Inga (played by Serena Ramsey) and Tilly (Played by Dawson) entertain themselves with a wonderful sense of humour. They speak in a whirlwind of naivety, innuendo and fully-blown expletives, a combination that has its audience splitting at the seams. Original music is heralded by sequences of interpretive dance, each number a means to make sense of their surroundings. A keyboard and an electric guitar (played by Franklin Dawson and Oscar Lane) also work well to create a sticky sense of atmosphere when the suspiciously clitoral-shaped hole appears in the fabric of Girl World, again proving to be an excellent source of comedy throughout.

What is particularly striking is the way that Girl World manages to capture the turbulent relationship of the youngsters so effectively. The finished article is an endearing and universally relatable event, like a photograph of the exact moment where one chooses maturity over make-believe. Frisky have created an imaginative production and have stayed true to the extra-terrestrial feminism that is so unique to them as artists. “Girl World all the way!”.

Girl World is playing at Platform Southwark until December 6th. For more information and tickets, see www.eventbrite.com/e/girl-world-tickets-40112984015

Josephine Balfour-Oatts

Josephine Balfour-Oatts

Josephine graduated from The University of Bristol with a BA(Hons) in Drama in 2016. Currently based in London, she is a keen writer with an interest in Experimental Theatre. You can spot her in any audience by her colourful glasses chains and energetic biro.