FESTIVAL – Girl Asleep – The Space, AFC

In Windmill Theatre’s Girl Asleep, we meet Greta (Ellen Steele), a teenage girl who has just moved house for the umpteenth time because of her Dad’s (Matthew Whittet) job and is struggling to work out where she fits in: in her family, in her new school, in the world in general.

Greta’s a fairly quiet type but in the enthusiastic and hilariously geeky Elliott (Eamon Farren), she finds a friend with whom she can share her correspondence to her Finnish pen pal (also named Greta) and love of plastic horses. It is almost her fifteenth birthday and, despite major misgivings, Greta agrees to her mother’s (Amber McMahon) desire to throw her a big party. What ensues is a fantastical journey through supernatural realms and Greta’s inner psyche, as her sister Genevieve’s (Jude Henshall) warning not to fall asleep rings in her ears. Writer Matthew Whittet and director Rosemary Myers has created an Alice in Wonderland for a slightly older generation.

The design of the piece (Jonathon Oxlade) is striking, with the kitschiest of the kitsch from the 70s combining with the strange extremes of a magical adventure. The set is multi-faceted and adapts well for the various settings demanded by the script. The characters, while all being over the top and somewhat stereotyped, are inherently realistic and emotionally truthful. The performances are all impressive, with each actor, aside from Steele, playing multiple and very varied roles; often switching between characters in a seemingly implausible timeframe. Humour is rife throughout, with Greta’s interactions with the vacant and ditzy clones and Elliott’s awkward rambles certain highlights. Additional features such as segments of puppetry and dance are used well to keep the action varied.

The show is probably aimed at a tween and early teen audience, and is likely to appeal to both this age group and their parents’ generation who, having grown up in the aforementioned era, will garner great entertainment from the references to memorable aspects of it. There is some strong language and adult themes included, which may be considered by some to make it unsuitable for younger children, and whether the messages encompassed would mean anything to them is also debatable, but for those bordering on that time between childhood and maturity, it will no doubt ring true and be very enjoyable.

Leave a Reply