My overall impression
Reviewed by Pauline Adamek *This review first appeared on www.StageRaw.com*
Playwright Louisa Hill’s world-premiere play Riot Grrrl Saves The World (well directed by Scott Marden) tackles some significant issues with humor and vitality. The pervasive violence against women, the oppressive messages that permeate the media and pop culture, as well as restrictive attitudes at home and school are all given an airing by a group of teenage girls each finding their own voice through fresh, funny and authentic dialogue. While there is a justifiable undercurrent of anger and defiance beneath the way these heavy topics are addressed, Hill also ensures there is an abundance of joy, hilarity and positive energy in her political dramedy. The result is an exuberant entertainment that has plenty to say about the darker corners of life.
A feisty troupe of young actors – Zoë Lillian, Poonam Basu, Emma Servant and Tiffany Mo – convincingly and endearingly play teenagers who more or less share goals but have well-delineated personalities. The play’s parallel storylines are deftly handled with a satisfying degree of complexity. Additionally, Courtney Eaddy-Richardson plays Grrrl, a character who bookends the play.
Three revolutionary teenagers have started publishing a magazine, hoping to spread the word about feminism and positive attitudes. “It could save a girl’s life to know she’s not alone,” one opines. The trio meets on a regular basis and decides to form a punk band to gain more exposure for their cause. When a straight-laced Jehovah’s Witness girl stumbles into one of their Riot Grrrl meetings, a forbidden romance ensues. While the (now four) band members argue about just how much exposure to mainstream media they really want, they all find out just how damaging that can be.
Occasionally the scenes become didactic, such as a declamation by the central trio about how “living in a [female] body is an occupational hazard” thanks to the prevalence of sexual harassment and aggression on every level “just because you are a girl.” Another serious soliloquy vividly describes an appallingly violent assault. These heavier scenes underpin the messages of the (somewhat) lighter storyline, to excellent effect. The story is poised on the cusp of an apocalypse, which not only serves as a metaphor but, curiously, also permits an uplifting note to the play’s conclusion. –Pauline Adamek