Celebrity crushes make your “insides feel smushed”. They have the potential to be the be-all and end-all of teenagers’ existences. They can be all-consuming, generating an addictive and intense chemical rush that makes people act a bit…crazy. Yve Blake’s Fangirls taps into the crazine…concept of teenage celebrity crush and fandom in a humorously tongue-in-cheek manner.
Directed by Paige Rattray, Fangirls is a female-led musical comedy. It focusses on fourteen-year-old Edna (Karis Oka) and her intense crush on singer Harry from one of the world’s biggest teenybopper bands, True Connection. When True Connection announces a concert in Australia, Edna is pregnant with, actually dead, can’t even! She begins plotting to meet Harry so her fantasy of falling in love and running away together can come to fruition. However, things go awry.
The minimalistic set design from David Fleischer supports the overall narrative while allowing the character development to flourish. Edna’s relationship with her best friends, Jules (Chika Ikogwe) and Brianna (Shubshri Kandiah) is a typical representation of a tumultuous teenage friendship. It is believable, it is painful, it is comical, and it is portrayed beautifully by Oka, Ikogwe and Kandiah. The exploration in Act One of Edna’s online friendship with Saltypringl (James Majoos) is similarly a joy to watch.
Nevertheless, a show highlight is not a poignant relationship moment or a poignant moment of any kind. Act Two’s Concert Medley is a scene bathed in melodrama and tongue-in-cheek comedic gold. From the overacting of Harry (Aydan) and the ensemble as True Connection and fangirls to including the audience as part of the scene—phone camera lights on!—it was continuous, laugh out loud rambunctious hijinks.
Fangirls is a caricature of reality. The trajectory of the narrative tends to slide into the absurd at times, making it unrelatable despite nearly everyone having been an Edna or Jules or Brianna at some stage in their life. This is somewhat disappointing because, beneath the surface of the loud music, vivid colours and quirky lyrics is a powerful message. Unfortunately, the message is glossed over and briefly makes an appearance in Act Two’s Disgusting before being swept back under the rug in lieu of boob jokes. This does not detract from the production as a piece of light entertainment. However, it is a missed opportunity to add substance.
Fangirls is a walking contradiction of the genuine and the absurd. But one thing is for sure, it is wonderfully entertaining. If you are looking for some comedic relief this Adelaide Festival Fangirls is the show for you.
Adelaide Festival Review By Anita Kertes
For tickets and show information to Fangirls head to the Adelaide Festival