girls

Girls

Birmingham Rep Door

*****

IN AN incredibly strong message that packs a political punch with the strength of the human spirit, Girls by Theresa Ikoko tells the story of the survival of three young women who were kidnapped from their homes in Nigeria by religious extremists.

It is the story of an everyday tragedy, that while the stories of captured women are viral online hashtags one day, they are soon to be forgotten by the next. With the direction of Elayce Ismail, Girls shows what happens when the world has forgotten.

We are exposed to the setting of the girl’s life after their capture. Rosanna Vize’s atmospheric set shows the smallness of their world and leaves a great deal to the imagination to fill in what is happening off set.

Black material is used as tree trunks and their only food is piled in a small corner upstage. The small and dark set is all we need to give off the atmosphere of complete isolation from the modern world. The ladies do well at describing the world from which they came, and fill in the gaps of what is happening around them when they re-enter after scenes outside their small space.

Theresa Ikoko is a new writing genius. She smashes the Western approach to African tragedy and is not afraid to tell a harsh truth of what is happening right now. She shines a light onto the horrors of of today, but still pays homage to the most beautiful moments that can be found in times of despair.

Characters Tisana, Ruhab and Haleema were captured by Islam extremists as their families fled. They are together in camp and although their backstories are the same, their experiences of being kidnapped are completely different.

DAILY TRAGEDY

Ikoko’s story is one that is overlooked by the western world and the media. In the girl’s journey we see that the shared online hashtags of today are easily forgotten by tomorrow. It is a story of daily tragedy and so overlooked by the powerful media of the west. Ikoko now has finally given the brave and very real girls a voice within a culture who chooses to ignore it.

The strong and powerful story of Ikoko is carried by the wonderful actors who embody her message. The cast of three is made up by Yvette Boakye, Abiola Ogunbiyi and Anita-Joy Uwajeh. Through them we see the heart-warming values of the bonds of friendship, sisterhood and human survival.

The performances from each actor alone is enough to make us stop to listen to the truth of what is happening before us, ignored by the Western world. Through Ikoko we see through the girls a human spirit and bravery beyond measure. Each character is has defining qualities that make them distinctly different. Through being captured, the audience see the way in which each girl is forced to grow up and discover themselves.

Haleema is played by Anita-Joy Uwajeh and we instantly see a strong natured and determined woman, wanting nothing more than to lead everyone to safety. In Uwajeh’s performance, we are able to understand the foundations of maintaining a small glimpse of hope, even when everything in life is taken away. Through her hard exterior, a caring and motherly nature is exposed.

Yvette Boakye is the funny and exuberant Ruhab who is perhaps the character most changed by the kidnap. Boakye sheds excellent light to Ruhab’s journey which leads the audience into a great insight into change and what it means to grow up. Tisana, perhaps the youngest of the girls is beautifully performed by Abiola Ogunbiyi.

Within Ogunbiyi’s portrayal, we see a girl forced to grow up with a bravery that was always present, but self-belief was not. It is fascinating that even during a time of desolation, the girls still find time to play and take a light-hearted approach to life.

The girls are intelligent and brave. Ikoko shows the sacrifice of what women of such a young age are doing on a daily basis to survive. They have each other which is enough to give them a hope that there will be an ending to the kidnap. Ikoko shows us that when the world has turned its back and ignores this reality, love will still be present, even when nobody can see To 24-09-16

Elizabeth Halpin

20-09-16 

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