REVIEW: Typical Girls – Not your typical night at the theatre
Billed as part-gig, part-play, going in I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the Crucible Theatre’s world premiere of Typical Girls. What I got was an absolute barn stormer of punk fuelled gig-theatre with bags and bags of heart.
Written by Morgan Lloyd Malcolm (Emilia) and co-produced by the wonderful Clean Break in conjunction with Sheffield Theatres, the action is centred around a group of women in a female prison who embark on weekly music therapy sessions under the tutelage of Marie, a committed tutor who’s own ‘outside world’ complexities are hinted at in snippets, before coming to the fore in the epic closing scenes.
This production has been in the works for over a year and the actors, some of whom are members* of Clean Break, look like they’ve been champing at the bit to unleash it, judging by the high-octane performances on show, artfully complimented by the music of The Slits, which the cast expertly perform live.
A particularly raw rendition of Typical Girls, which gives the musical its title, helps set the tone and gets the hairs on your arms standing to attention. This is followed by the interspersing of live performances, which help catalogue the women’s journey. They each take turns to be centre stage, without it ever feeling formulaic, each finding a means of expression via punk, inspired largely by The Slits songs and their characters newfound instruments.
Alison Fitzjohn, as Mouth, steals the show with a fantastic performance in role that could quite easily have been a peripheral and merely played for laughs. She adds depth along with the humour, which is mirrored by the quirky Jane character, played by Helen Cripps, who beats the hell out of the drums in between her characters prim and proper outbursts.
Whether it’s a play, a musical or even a gig, it’s far from typical and it left us brimming with defiant, angsty punk sentiment as we piled out of the auditorium into the Sheffield night.
*Clean Break’s Members programme is available to women aged 18+ and offers a foundation of learning and skills in theatre performance, creativity and well-being, and opportunities to engage in professional, public facing performance projects. All workshops are underpinned by their comprehensive, trauma-informed approach to support women to reach their full potential. For more info on Clean Break visit their website here.