It’s always exciting to see young people across the country perform, especially when it is in new work by upcoming writers. Canadian writer Evan Placey’s new play Girls Like That is no exception. The play, created and produced in conjunction with the West Yorkshire Playhouse, Birmingham Repertory Theatre and Theatre Royal Plymouth is an energetic and dazzling piece of theatre that captivates a vast age range of audience members right from the start. I came to see the West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre’s spectacular interpretation, directed by Youth Theatre Director Gemma Woffinden, her first major piece.
When I entered the Playhouse’s Courtyard Theatre, it was interesting to see the lack of objects on the set; all that was on the stage were a few multi-coloured lines connected to a series of flashing lights in the floor, which illuminated the dark theatre numerous times in the production. When the cast came on, accompanied by a pounding sonic soundscape that drew my attention right to the characters and their blank, ominous faces, I knew that this was going to be quite a thrill ride.
The cast worked incredibly well as a tight ensemble. Every character reacted with one other, right from the opening scene. Their physicality was also excellent, with each individual managing to portray a variety of strong characters, allowing them to contribute to the themes and issues presented in the script. Their storytelling skills were also excellent, with the cast members being able to shift between time periods and locations with minimal effort in the most organic way possible.
The play itself was incredibly interesting. It’s very rare that you find pieces of contemporary theatre out there that present to audiences issues that young people are going through. Girls Like That manages to do this in a unique way; it’s got all of the fancy technicalities you would expect from a contemporary piece of theatre, but has strong, relevant issues and themes that young people today go through. This works extremely well in a variety of ways; young people in the audience would be able to relate to the entire narrative and become wrapped up in the story, whereas audience members such as their parents would take delight in comparing how much has changed in young peoples’ lives over the years. In short, it offers everyone a fresh perspective on several different issues in society today.
It’s also nice to see young people performing on stage, particularly those of the newly-formed West Yorkshire Playhouse Youth Theatre. There is a large amount of talent within these young people, with this show being a perfect example of it. They are slowly becoming an inspiration to other young people out there with a passion for the arts and theatre, and it is important that they are recognised.
All in all, Girls Like That is a well written, immaculately crafted and brave piece of energetic theatre that plays host to some powerful issues and themes that everyone will be able to relate to in one way or another.
Girls Like That is playing at the West Yorkshire Playhouse until 20 July. For more information and tickets, see The West Yorkshire Playhouse website.