Pleasance Courtyard (Baby Grand)
Teenage girls are powerful. Even though they are often made to feel otherwise; by parents, by teachers, and so many other adult figures. But when they band together and converge their passions towards a goal, they are unstoppable. Just watch it happen, live, at a performance of SHEWOLVES, currently running at Pleasance Courtyard’s Baby Grand at Edinburgh Fringe.
Lou and Priya (Harriet Waters and Gurjot Dhaliwal) are fourteen and school outcasts. Lou is an activist, desperate to encourage meaningful movement against the climate crisis, even if it means getting in trouble at school. Priya has issues at home, wants to skive lessons, and needs a place to stay. When the two come together and Lou gets into deeper trouble due to her activism, they decide to take off together into the wilderness.
Sarah Middleton’s script is both light and sincere, comic and dramatic. As we explore Lou and Priya’s personal circumstances, flaws, and problems, we also tackle public issues of protest and the climate crisis. Each issue is given its spotlight in the space, whilst also existing alongside the others in harmony. The narrative follows a conventional dramatic structure, culminating in an epic, action-packed ending. Middleton ties together all threads of the story in a satisfying, film-esque montage (directed by Hannah Stone).
Stone’s direction ensures the production flows seamlessly. From the theatrical introduction setting the energised atmosphere, to each transition holding the audience’s attention, the actors move with purpose and the energy never drops. Every joke lands, every emotional punch is taken.
Both performers are sensational – bringing Middleton’s dialogue to the stage with authenticity and humour. Dhaliwal is exhilarating as Priya. Her comedic timing, use of voice, and physical comedy are imbedded with character and wholly convincing. She strikes a superb balance of humour and seriousness, as demanded by Priya’s journey. Waters is immaculate as Lou – every choice of facial expression, gesture, and body language consistent with the eccentric character she has built. Together, the performers are outstanding, their characters’ developing relationship the beating heart of the story.
The production’s aesthetic further amplifies the performance. From Priya and Lou’s pink and blue ski suits and sleeping bags, to Anna Reddyhoff’s creative lighting design, SHEWOLVES is a technicolour delight. Charlotte Henery’s set design is functional and used dynamically by the actors as part of the storytelling. Moments of Eleanor Isherwood’s sound design deserve specific highlighting, including the alarm that wakes Lou in the morning (‘wake up, the world is still burning’) and the alarming text tone that alerts her to messages from her mum. No aspect of this world is without creativity and originality.
Priya and Lou’s story is an empowering, coming of age tale that expresses the power of young people. With all we have to fight for in this day and age, stories like SHEWOLVES are vital, and deserve to be howled about.
Written by: Sarah Middleton
Directed by: Hannah Stone
Produced by: Courtenay Johnson for Carbon Theatre
Dramaturgy by: Tilly Branson
Lighting Design by: Anna Reddyhoff
Set Design by: Charlotte Henery
Sound Design and Composed by: Eleanor Isherwood
SHEWOLVES is playing as part of Edinburgh Fringe at the Pleasance Courtyard’s Baby Grand until 29 August 2022. Further information and bookings here.