by Mia Harrison
On August 2, Girl, a play devised by the all-female ensemble and directed by Mary Hubert made it’s debut at Capitol Hill’s Annex Theatre. Eventually, I was cordially “chosen” to enter into the Girl realm: a chance to participate in an adult choose-your-own adventure that follows the heroines’ journey.
Walking up the staircase to the entrance with No Doubt’s ‘Just A Girl’ blasting in my earbuds unknowingly prepared me for the night’s festivities. As I checked in I was given my invitation, a map of the venue, and was told to follow the path into the Rec Room assured that there would be a, “Bar!”
I maneuvered through the hallway and found my way to the promised land, where I posed the age old question, “to have a drink or not to have a drink?” Eventually, I took a seat and more people began to file in; some heading to the bar, others sharing the same internal debate. Surveying the room I began to realize that this was much like the board game Clue: a group of strangers in one room with the same purpose. We were all there for an entertaining and enlightening evening where hopefully no murders would occur.
The biggest highlight was the unconventionality of the play via the set. Each scene takes place simultaneously in the separate rooms some even merging together as one girl interacts with the next. The zigzagging flow of Girls both physically (the set) and conceptually (the script) gives a slight essence of David Lynch: Talks of the paranormal, incongruent scenes, and unanswered questions–who is the French girl?
The viewer is able to leave a room whenever they choose, making it so he or she is solely responsible for molding their own experience. As I floated from room to room I was no longer at the Annex, I was transported into the Girls’ house; I was peering into the subconsciousness of the girls as they were traversing the map of life: consoling each other through distress, getting ready for a party, preparing for the unexpected and perhaps the end of the world.
Although the play’s approach is innovative in its inclusion of the audience, one major pitfall is the improvisation during the performance. From the opening scene at the Rec Room, one of the girls tells you that some of the words were written while others are “her own” giving the impression that the scripted versus candid would be seamless. I will say that each character has her own aesthetic, and personality that is highlighted through the conversations between cast members; each interaction feeling genuine. However, the disparity lies between the cast and the audience, where fluidity gives way to awkwardness. Audience members were given props or actions to perform with no direction or explanation. Looks that were once gazes of interest transformed into uncertainty making the progression of the story hazy in itself.
Overall, Girl is a modern art experience that takes a stab at knocking down the fourth wall. Firstly, the play is engaging (essential for culture that lacks attention spans and craves instant gratification) with a strong soundtrack to boot spoiler alert: the sounds of Ludacris make an appearance. Second, it is breaking boundaries both physically (making creative use of an entire space) and socially (a kick-ass all female cast). If you’ve been looking for an adventure, join these woman in their journey of self-discovery. You can find Girl at the Annex Theatre during its last week this Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday at 7PM and 9PM.
Featured photo courtesy of Annex Theatre