Happy Girl (3 stars)

This article is from 2015

Happy Girl

Thought provoking and funny performance exploring self image in female teens

Opening with a voiceover of beauty adverts, Happy Girl is set in a secondary school where new girl Irene has recently enrolled following home schooling. Through her eyes we experience how the teenagers negotiate the minefield of being female.

There's plenty of comedy in the girls' obsession with their appearance, but each funny incident – a girl racing wide-eyed on the treadmill in wedge trainers as she fixates on the word calories, a group waxing their legs to 'dolphin'-like smoothness – hammers home the depressing point that girls are conditioned to equate their worth with their appearance. The female characters are not in it together, though – in this British Mean Girls, 'friends' deal in back-handed compliments and other females are seen as 'competition'.

The shift between scenes is a little clunky at first, but soon we're on a seamless journey through bedrooms, changing rooms and study areas. There's some fun dance numbers and a particularly powerful poem about the fear of walking home alone. Happy Girl is a genuinely thought provoking piece on self image and relationships that transcends the realm of teenage girls and speaks to the wider experience of being female.

theSpace @ Surgeons Hall, 510 2384, until 15 Aug, 1.10pm, £6 (£5).

Happy Girl

  • 3 stars

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