Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Outgrown at the Etcetera Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Outgrown at the Etcetera Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | REVIEW: Outgrown at the Etcetera Theatre
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30 Apr REVIEW: Outgrown at the Etcetera Theatre

With homework to get done, Backstreet Boys blaring out the stereo and blue WKD in hand, Lizzie and Beth declared they’d be best friends forever. They didn’t just declare it; they knew that, no matter what, they’d always be inseparable. But 10 years later their paths have fractured, Lizzie a successful career woman engaged to the man of her dreams, and Beth bed-hopping, travelling and determinedly not settling down. But even though opinions that once converged now polarise the girls – or rather, women – that doesn’t go to say they’re not best friends any more. Outgrown puts us in the living room, in the middle of a catch up between the twenty-somethings as they explore the mechanics of this radically altered relationship, and look back at some of the twists and turns it’s been through.

It’s a very familiar scenario, and one that most people have probably experienced in one way or another, even if it wasn’t via the transition from teenager to woman, and even if the Spice Girls were a long time before or after your teenage years. The divergence of life courses is a strangely involuntary process that comes with a lot of emotional baggage which is often gut wrenchingly asymmetrical, but at the same time can sometimes totally reaffirm what you already thought you knew. But with fading friendships being so absolutely specific to friends, it’s a risky idea for a play, but one that Mind Your Head Theatre absolutely pull off. There’s something very exciting about a show that can reach inside you and pluck out a very personal experience, opinion or perspective, one you’ve never been able to – maybe never even tried to – express, and put it on stage with utter comprehension and a full and complete appreciation for every associated emotion.

Despite the fact that to a certain extent it’s a universal experience, the play is necessarily less relatable to people living their lives in a different time scale to Lizzie and Beth. With such specific cultural references, the play has the feel of a BuzzFeed article about it; if you remember thinking you were bad-ass because you drank Smirnoff Ice, and hurried home from school to talk to your friends on MSN, you’re definitely in the target demographic. But as with anything so specific, if you fall just fractionally outside that range, the failure to relate excludes you from it entirely.

On the basis that this reviewer is well within that target range, Outgrown is a play that draws an enormous wealth of humour from the memories it triggers through a series of flashbacks, prompting a relentless series of, “ha! I definitely did that!”s. It invites us to indulge in a delicious moment of hindsight, remembering teenage traumas, and having a long, hard a giggle at our own expenses.

On stage, Paige Wilson and Lucy Hagan-Walker put in strong acting performances, ernest and convincing as their adult characters, the awkwardness tangible as neither is sure which of the unspoken rules they lived by 10 years ago still stand. They’re also remarkably familiar as teenagers – Hagan-Walker’s Cassie is particularly notable as a neurotic house party host, convinced she can psychology her way to a great party – without having the place trashed.

It’s moments like these that are the real strength of Outgrown, but in between, it also asks some very interesting questions, the first and foremost of them being “if we hadn’t met, do you think we’d still be the same?” Certainly food for thought, the play is perhaps a little direct in trying to answer it, and could have opted for a more sophisticated, nuanced approach, but nevertheless including it does add a different dimension to this irresistible nostalgia-fest. And an irresistible nostaliga-fest it is, complete with a soundtrack that couldn’t be more perfect.

For tickets and information:
Venue: Etcetera Theatre
Dates: 28th April – 3rd May 2015

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here