October 9th || Bethan Shuff

They say things come in three’s, don’t they. Three girls, with three dilemmas; Potboiler presents Girls, Girls, Girls over three nights at The Exchange.

Walking into The Exchange basement, I am surprised at how spacious it seems. The stage is usually covered in kit; amps, guitars, drums… but this was not a usual weekend for The Exchange. Instead, the floor was clear, with a wooden platform just off the stage where music-lovers are usually throwing their pints around. Little white plastic garden chairs lined the rest of the floor as excited chatter circled the room as people wondered what to expect.

Set in 1997, Girls, Girls, Girls follows three teenagers, Badger, Fish Head and Baby Face as they go on their 18th birthday night out up ‘anley. I was super interested to find out how the three young actresses, Bethany-Jo Clews (Badger), Naomi Felton (Fish Head) and Ashleigh Cordery (Baby Face), would create an entire cast of characters with just themselves. Throughout the performance, the girls play parts such as bus drivers, bouncers, teachers, drunk nail technicians, boyfriends (in the loosest sense) and more, and the girls transform into these roles and make you have a right good giggle. Kat Boon has written this play so cleverly, having the girls narrate what’s going on through both words and actions without making it feel like narrative, you know exactly what’s going on and who’s playing who even with minimal set and actors.

Being set in Stoke-on-Trent, you find yourself wrapped in the nostalgia of Hanley nights out in Valentino’s with a Smirnoff ice. However, the night takes a terrible turn, away from the light-hearted comedy and into a darker thriller. The girls are split up, each with their own problems to try and fix. One of which being the return of a childhood friend, snatched from the streets as a child. There’s a shocking confession around every corner that is bound to keep you on the edge of your seat.

Bethany-Jo, Naomi and Ashleigh have such a wonderful and heart-warming charisma, which oozes confidence and professionalism. It was like watching a film, not a play. You become so immersed in the story that you don’t even realise that there are only three actresses, moving the set around themselves, setting up their own props, cleverly manoeuvring their space into something so versatile. This one wooden platform is a bed, a bus, a club, a loo cubical, a takeaway and it that moment, you really believe it. Kat Hughes has done a brilliant job of directing. With only two doors into The Exchange basement, at the back and the side, there seems to be limitations to how stage entrances may be carried out, but this is no task for the girls, who will surprise you time and time again. The narrative imagery makes you feel like you’re really in the story, and you become incredibly emotionally involved with the characters.

Friendship is the most important factor and it will prevail. ‘So, when’s the next night out?’.

Although it has now finished its three-day run at The Exchange, Potboiler hopes to tour Girls Girls Girls around the country next year.