"Goddess-worship, octopus birthing and Beckett-tinged woe-begottenness" - these were just some of the choice words from Edinburgh Fringe as they prepared to host multi-media theatre piece GIRL WORLD, the first full-length show from Frisky Arts.
We came across the Frisky gang when producer and actor Lucy Mann bought her Theresa-May-themed-sex-education-participatory-dancing-show (you heard) S*XED to Langaland Festival last year. After witnessing its combination of sharp observation and sheer raucousness, we knew we wanted more.
I was fortunate enough to accompany Young People from Bristol's Tobacco Factory Theatre to see GIRL WORLD at Off The Cuff (Herne Hill, South London) last year. We were pulled immediately into one of the show's central themes through collaborative drawing and party decor - childhood memories and the balance between its innocence against the cynicism and carnal urges of adulthood. Director Camille Dawson explains more in this article from Frisky's residency with Brainchild/Platform Southwark: "When I was eight-years-old, me and two sisters, Molly and Una Richards, found a big roll of wallpaper. Upon it, we began a drawing that came to be called Girl World." As the young artists grew, so did their perception of the world around them and the adult themes developing in the original, pictoral Girl World - whilst at the same time their brothers created a fictitious religion complete with a set of catchphrases, all of which are present in the show we see today. It may seem odd that so many concepts are lifted directly from the artists' childhood - and while there's a risk this could alienate some audiences, Frisky's experience so far has been of an overwhelming sense of connection, with audience members up and down the country sharing their own childhood versions of Girl World and relating to the show and its quirks on a hugely nostalgic and personal level.
Seeing Girl World for a second time (at Bristol's Wickham Theatre), I realised that far from wholly retrospective - whilst conjuring images and phrases from their past, the show is rooted firmly against the backdrop of current conversations around gender identity as well as a poignant portrayal of the experience of young women looking towards their future. All tenses are somehow covered, and despite the rightfully female overtones of the show, it's accessible to audiences of all genders and backgrounds - homage to Camille's concern that theatre "can often be pitched as a stuffy and unsociable form of art"
In Girl World, Frisky have taken the sharp wit and genre-bending style of Tina Satter (see Ghost Rings) and unashamedly mashed it with the very British sense of anarchy and surrealist vision of the Mighty Boosh and Smack The Pony- with a little Pussy Riot and Grayson Perry aesthetics (courtesy of Ranya El-Refaey) thrown in for good measure. It's part musical, part improvised chaos, somehow sitting somewhere between a 90s sketch show (one of my favourite scenes sees the girls practising the lesser known 'crispy chicken' yoga position) and a kids musical gone terribly wrong. Oscar and Franklin (of South London band BOSS) provide a live soundtrack that falls somewhere between the Stranger Things soundtrack and a forgotten Mario Land theme tune.
Despite the dripping layers of cartoonish nonsense permeating every corner of the show (this is a good thing, FYI), Girl World packs punches in the right places. Sadly, even in 2019 (and on International Women's Day) we still find ourselves surrounded by taboos around female sexuality and stunted by the lack of platforms women's voices are given. In this global backdrop of sexual violence, bigotry and the impending apocalypse, there's never been a better time to sing songs about vaginas and space hopper goddesses.
Girl World continues to tour throughout 2019 - calling at Brighton Fringe with more dates to be announced. You can follow Frisky via their website, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Shinbonkin!
Tilly: Camille Dawson | Inga: Serena Ramsey | Live music / Pony Boys: Franklin Dawson & Oscar Lane | Writer & Artistic Director: Camille Dawson | Musical Composer: Franklin Dawson | Rehearsal Director: Rebecca Hill | Producer: Beth Sitek | Designer: Ranya El-Refaey | Production Company: FRISKY | www.friskyarts.com
Tom Stockley is a smelly boy, living and working in Bristol. He's an artist, performer and producer of various things including Langaland Festival and upcoming shows as punk poet T.S. IDIOT.
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