'Unapologetic and empowering' - Lovely Girls @ Wardrobe Theatre


By Amy Iles, third year Theatre and Performance Studies

Amy Iles reviews an insightful and uplifting dance-theatre performance.

‘Lovely’. What does it actually say about the thing it’s trying to describe- especially when that ‘thing’ is women? In Lovely Girls, a work in progress amalgamation of dance, theatre and comedy, Cristina MacKerron and Chess Dillon-Reams (The Hiccup Project) fight against this engendered title that is too often given to them. They dance, frolic and sweat through the show with the chemistry between them ensuring perfect comic timing; they quip the end of each-others' sentences, simultaneously telling their own stories and, I suspect, a story which many of the audience have themselves experienced.

"they dance, frolic and sweat through the show with the chemistry between them ensuring perfect comic timing"

Despite some clumsy transitions that work in progress pieces are prone to, there is an abundance of light-hearted but poignantly relevant moments showing the reality of being a woman in the contemporary world. These clearly resonated with the largely female audience, myself included. A tension is created between women’s desires and how they wish to be perceived by those around them, and how societal pressure challenges these wants, demonstrating the difficulty and contradictions of meeting both your own expectations and those of society. Some parts at first seem a little obscure, but the topical messages, from how men perceive the 'taboo' of feminism to how insecurities about physical appearance can affect girls’ drive to pursue a talent or hobby, can no doubt be discerned through the various mediums of performance the women employ.

The use of popular music cleverly articulates and sometimes satirises the roles that women play, or are perceived to play, in modern society. One particularly affecting moment comes when Dillon-Reams and MacKerron are dancing with carefree abandon to Sophie Ellis-Bextor’s 'Murder on the Dancefloor' when, gradually, their dancing diminishes as they notice presumably male observers on their own imaginary dancefloor - they then become increasingly self-conscious, until they stop dancing altogether. I've been in this situation myself- all you want is to let go and be yourself, only to be disrupted by judgmental onlookers of either sex. As a result, this was a moment that made me realise the stereotypes that we, as women, subconsciously conform to on a daily basis. Even more importantly, the moment made me question why?

"these ‘Lovely Girls’ are two powerful and intelligent women to look out for"

The post-show discussion truly enlightened me to the overwhelming, complex and rewarding process that is still ongoing. There are so many uplifting, unapologetic and empowering moments in this show that now just need a little refinement to take the audience on a more fluid journey, which I am certain will emerge in the coming months. These ‘Lovely Girls’ are two powerful and intelligent women to look out for, and I cannot wait to see the finished piece next year.


(Featured image credits: Unsplash / Rene Böhmer)

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