Shameless Hussy Productions, in collaboration with Theatre Temp’s Dream Big Productions and the Girls in Leadership Club at Templeton Secondary School presents the Vancouver premiere of Evan Placey’s Girls Like That.
Whore. Slut. Scuzz.
These are words that are really hard to hear, but even more difficult coming out the mouths of teenage girls. As a mom of three girls, I wonder if it’s really possible that girls could hold hands at circle time in kindergarten and then later call each other a skank and viciously gossip about one another in high school.
But it’s what happens in Girls Like That when a naked photo circulates around a school and girls, “friends” since they were 5 years old, process the fall out. Featuring an all-female cast and directed by Renée Iaci, Girls Like That explores the pressures of being a girl in today’s technology-driven world where friends text more than talk.
These stereotypes and double standards are the unfortunate stories of teenage girls and nothing new. But in the age of the smart phone and social media, cattiness is heightened and the girls often get swept away. At one point, the girls reach out to their friend to soothe her and offer support, but in a flash, they descend into a never-ending prank call with hateful puns and slut shaming. In another, the girls trash the women in the latest gossip magazine, then look in the mirror and bemoan all their faults, including that their “feet are too long”.
Presented in a near constant stream of a collective consciousness, each girl offers her internal thoughts, insecurities and interpretation of the action. These observations are hilarious or cruel, oftentimes poignant – and always governed by the groupthink. As the story unfolds, you as the observer want to will them to stop and simply be kinder to each other. You want to yell: Don’t you know you’re already amazing, smart and beautiful? But their circumstances and positioning in the group are always at stake to never make this easy, much less possible.
Punctuated by touching throwbacks to when the girls were friends in simpler times and monologues told in different decades by characters who offer their own stories on how they prevailed over sexism, the play also features a few musical numbers set to pop music, the lyrics of which shed more clues on the pressures girls face: “California gurls / We’re unforgettable / Daisy dukes / Bikinis on top / Sun-kissed skin / So hot / We’ll melt your Popsicle.”
And while the girls – and by extension all girls – seem to be caught in their own fate, leaving us wanting them to rise up and find their individual voice, Girls Like That helps us see the way out and into a world where girls really can find a way to stick together.
Don’t be fooled by the play’s location or age of the actors. This is a professional-level production and you can see the shining talent in each of the girls, who auditioned from all over Metro Vancouver.
A warning: Girls Like That has mature content. I brought my 12-year-old daughter and her friend, but assess your own child’s maturity and readiness. Even so, with today’s headlines of sexual assault, now, more than ever, it’s all the more important to see this play – and bring your teenage son or daughter too.
Girls Like That
Limited Run. Until November 10. $10. Tickets
Christine Pilkington has over 15 years of digital and interactive media experience. Breakfast Television has dubbed her a Baby Product Guru and she frequently appears on CBC and CTV. She lives with her husband, three daughters and a Lagotto Romagnolo in East Vancouver, about 10 minutes from where she grew up. Christine is also the CEO of Crisp Media Inc, which develops digital marketing strategies for businesses.