Pros: A great piece of theatre to educate young people about the dangers of sexting and get them to question their part in maintaining society’s sexist status quo.
Cons: Despite its laudable pro-feminist stance we were disappointed that this play had some unchallenged homophobic undertones.
Girls Like That addresses the modern phenomenon of sexting alongside the age-old inequality in the treatment of boys and girls (and men and women) in British society. The play centres on a group of six teenage girls who have grown up together from primary school and through them explores the way that girls interact and compete with each other from a very young age onward. The story is about the controversy that is caused when one of the girls, Scarlett, sends a naked photo of herself to her boyfriend which he passes onto his friends. The photo then goes viral across the whole school. Whilst the boy is applauded for his sexual conquest the girl is slut-shamed and ultimately so humiliated that she is forced to leave school. Her worst tormentors turn out to be the girls she has grown up with and who are jealous of her passage into womanhood.
Cleverly woven into the narrative of the play via the girls’ history class, we also explore how sexist attitudes are deeply ingrained our in society, as the girls are asked to consider the injustices that their female ancestors had struggled to overcome. The play suggests that in the digital age we have actually gone backwards a step with women losing any solidarity they had for each other and becoming ‘worse than the boys’.
The set is simple but effective. An image of a girl’s face, made up of hundreds of photos of other faces, takes up the entire back wall of the stage. Six white chairs are used to create all the different locations of the play from seats in school to lockers to swimming pool changing rooms and even serve as Madonna style dance props. The lighting consists of a pink wash over the stage and spotlights shaped like social media icons, which swept across the stage as the girls spread gossip about their ‘friend’. Costumes, again, are straightforward, but do the job. The girls all wear school uniforms with headphones around their necks, which they put on for short dance routines that parody the pop music role models that young women aspire to be like.
Overall this is a brilliant, fast-paced piece of theatre that manages to cover a lot of the issues that young women face today in just over an hour. The time flew by and we were entertained throughout. My only criticism is that there were four or five negative references to gay people that were never challenged. I know that homophobia is still pretty prevalent in schools today, so author Evan Placey would probably argue that it’s representative of young people’s experiences, but as the play did such a great job at challenging sexism it seemed like a shame that this was ignored. I almost gave this play five stars as the whole show was slick, well written and all the performances were fantastic. Nevertheless, I couldn’t get past the fact that young LGBT people could have been sitting in the audience and feeling like the injustices that they face weren’t confronted, so I felt in good conscience that I had to knock a star off.
However, this show is still well worth a visit, particularly if you are a secondary school teacher or a parent of a secondary age child. A great conversation starter for you and your kids and there are also learning packs available to use in the classroom.
Author: Evan Placey
Director: Esther Baker
Box Office: 020 7645 0560
Booking Link: https://www.unicorntheatre.com/whatson/73/girls-like-that
Booking Until: 22 November 2014