Festival Fringe Theatre

Fringe 2022: Head Girl- Review

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Girl Next Door Theatre Company’s Head Girl is the tale of Becca, a teenage schoolgirl who has dreamed throughout her high school years to become head girl. To Becca, it is the highest status a student can achieve, but Becca’s obsession with becoming head girl has stopped her from making a life for herself out of school. It could be a great story, however, Girl Next Door failed to successfully tell it. I write this regretfully because I truly thought Becca would be a relatable character rather than a mockery of teenage girlhood, which is what she became as the play went on.

From the start Head Girl showcases itself to be a play about female friendships, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. I actually quite enjoyed this part of the plot. However, what I am criticising is the play’s failure to present the plot I was promised. The supposed hunger that Becca had for Head Girl is diminished by three factors: Becca’s annoyingly childlike personality, her best-friend Lily, and the fact that this was not a one-woman show.

I can only assume that Girl Next Door TC were trying to make Becca a classic nerd: she listened to classical music and was ridiculed by the audience and her teacher for it, she was excited to be at school and loved her teacher. However, character qualities shouldn’t be the centre of the plot, but rather accompany it. Instead, Becca’s nerdy personality quickly becomes the centre of the show and although this gained quite a few laughs from the audience, the original focus on her plan to become head girl seemed like an afterthought.

Lily is Becca’s best friend, and their friendship is quite sweet. If this was a play about female friendship Becca and Lily’s friendship would gain five stars, but it’s not. Head Girl is supposed to be about Becca. So naturally I was surprised to have scenes solely dedicated to Lily’s boy troubles instead of Becca’s campaign for Head Girl, a campaign in which her best friend did not help with. Lily’s support for her best-friend’s dream was non-existent and her absence in this part of her life was not addressed.

Becca’s best friend and her teacher are both played by the same actor. When actors are expected to play two characters usually with scenes of their respective characters being back-to-back, this can either go extremely well or terribly wrong. Head Girl unfortunately suffered from the latter. Ultimately other than a blush pink cardigan there wasn’t a clear distinction between Lily and Becca’s teacher. Which in turn just made Head Girl confusing to keep up with, again distracting from Becca’s hunger to be head girl.

The most confusing scene in the play was when Becca decided to stay home and miss her chance to win head girl. This felt totally unrealistic especially after watching half a five-minute scene of the main character fantasying about winning her dream role. Becca was upset over her favourite teacher’s decision to resign, but not to the extend it justified her skipping over her one dream in life. Worse, there was no resolution, Becca’s just left without a plan and doesn’t seem to even acknowledge this like a normal teenager would.

Head Girl is not a bad play, it just needs to be developed into a performance about either friendship or Becca’s hunger for head girl. I do admire the fact that Girl Next Door is an all-female theatre company and wish them all the best in the future.

Catch Head Girl at TheSpace on the Royal Mile from August 15th-20th.

Image accredited to Emma Solomon Photography