Part of the Camden Fringe 2013
Written and directed by Samantha Ng-Knight
Pros: Plenty of amusing moments and obvious parallels to groups like The Sugababes and The Spice Girls.
Cons: Certain characters, perhaps, could have been more roundly developed.
Our Verdict: A funny and topical insight into the quest for fame.
In an age where everyone seems to want to be in the limelight, and shows like Glee, X-Factor and Fame Academy dominate prime-time television, it is obvious that many people now want to be celebrities.
Tapping into this appetite for fame, A Girlband – written and directed by one of the show’s stars, Samantha Ng-Knight – takes a broad look at three young women who want to break into show business, all with very different reasons for doing so.
Lisa (Lauren Backler) hopes to use a spell in music as a springboard to get into acting, such as the way Billie Piper did. Kirsty (Hayley Evans) in contrast, is ambitious to the point of having tunnel vision, while Jenny (Samantha Ng-Knight), the naive conservative girl, just seems to enjoy the novelty of being wanted for something potentially glamorous.
From the word go, their manager tries to suss out who out of the girls would be willing to perform sexual favours. They in turn debate how much of his behaviour they are willing to tolerate on the road to success. Things are further complicated by the fact that Nigel is having an affair with the band’s songwriter, who supplies songs they are not keen on.
Backler as the understandably concerned Lisa, gives a very believable performance, her face expressing a multitude of emotions. Evans, meanwhile, delivers a scene-stealing turn as the forthright and single-minded Kirsty.
I knew on the night that A Girlband was a comedy and that it was based on true experiences, but I did wonder whether the grotesque behaviour of Nigel, the manager, was a bit over-the-top. He seemed so self-centred, why anybody would put up with his nonsense, was beyond me. If he had perhaps one redeemable feature, he would have come across as a plausible, flawed man, instead of a caricature of chauvinists everywhere.
Ignoring that though, there’s plenty to like about A Girlband. One thing that was particularly good was the dialogue. Ng-Knight has a very good ear for witty remarks, especially the caustic comments amongst the girls. Also worthy of note are the songs that were developed for the show. One in particular was unashamedly ‘explicit’ – similar in tone to the tracks on The Teaches of Peaches album. Spinal Tap would have been proud!
A Girlband makes a lot of references to music events and contemporary Britain, and in that sense, it does have its finger of the pulse of today. It is also a show that would have extra-special appeal to young people or people with no affinity with going to the theatre.
A Girlband at The Pirate Castle has now finished its run at the Camden Fringe. For more information on SLoCoach Productions, follow them on twitter: https://twitter.com/SLo_Coach_