Review: Girls, by Theresa Ikoko, HighTide Festival, until September 18

Girls by Theresa Ikoko at the HighTide festival

Girls by Theresa Ikoko at the HighTide festival - Credit: Archant

The female experience is explored at this year’s HighTide Festival. All collectively present the personal as political, giving a strong, heart breaking, transgressive voice to universal truths and relative, urgent horror.

Three young women – Haleema, Ruhab and Tisana are abducted in a horrifying attack on their Nigerian village by Islamic extremists. They have only each other and their sisterhood to sustain them. Their conversations in the face of their ordeal are all at once funny and tragic with references to Kim Kardashian, Rhianna, Facebook and Twitter, boys and sex. They are just girls, after all, and it is clear these could be any young girl any of us know.

But, all this becomes jarringly abstract, as Haleema (Anita Joy Uwajeh) scathingly puts it: “What on earth do you want to do with a hashtag? Can you use it to shoot your way out of here? become invisible and walk past them to escape..?” The internet or fame cannot save them and the fleeting moment of a #hastag campaign is merely cling film.

Their reality is as a stark as the staging. They are alone and although there are no men present in this play, their power and ownership is complete and hangs over them like a stench.

Exceptional performances from all three actors support the strong and muscular dialogue from Theresa Ikoko in this her astonishing debut play. The structure of the play and relationships between the three move fluidly. Our girls are funny and wise and their conversations absorb us and serve as an echo of who they still are. They cling to it as their only form of escape.

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This play is crucial watching and feels epic in its intention. These girls must not be forgotten by a fickle media. This is important writing and a must see.

Jackie Montague

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