Fangirls, Lyric Hammersmith, 2024
Photo: Manuel Harlan
  • Theatre, Musicals
  • Lyric Hammersmith, Hammersmith

Fangirls

This Australian musical about pop standom gone too far is more Matt Cardle than One Direction

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Time Out says

A musical about obsessive online fandoms is a brilliant idea. But I’m sorry to report this hit Australian show – largely the brainchild of writer, songwriter and original star Yve Blake – is very much Not It.

Australian 14-year-old Edna (Jasmine Elcock, winsome) is a fully signed-up stan of Harry (Thomas Grant), the most beloved member of reality TV show-assembled Brit boy band Heartbreak Nation (to be clear here: to all intents and purposes Harry is meant to be Harry Styles.)

Edna seems to be normal enough: she writes fanfic about Harry, but she’d hardly be the only one. Beyond that her only real distinguishing characteristics are that she’s on a scholarship to a fancy school and her mum is a single mum. 

Anyway, long story short: she fails to secure tickets to the band’s Sydney date and decides she’ll abduct Harry instead. And indeed she does so. Which is a fun premise but ‘Fangirls’ doesn’t do much with it. It is neither a fast-paced, laugh a minute dark comedy nor a serious interrogation of obsession fandoms. Instead it dabbles in high school drama clichés and mixes jokey bits and earnest bits to muddled effect.

Director Paige Rattray brings a stylish music video aesthetic to bear, and David Fleischer’s three-level video screen set is nifty: sometimes it’s just a flexible projected backdrop, but later it works brilliantly as the tiers of a stadium. There’s cracking video design by Ash J Woodward.

Blake’s book and lyrics aren’t deep, but a better director of comedy could surely have made them a lot funnier. ‘Fangirls’ is often ponderous, and doesn’t feel like it’s having nearly enough fun with its premise. And taken too seriously it just doesn’t work. Unless Blake is genuinely implying that poor children who go to private school on scholarships are actually unusually emotionally unstable – and I don’t think she is – then her musical offers little serious insight into standom. Edna is a teenage Harry obsessive but it never seems to be that bad, and if anything the online community she’s part of seems nurturing and level-headed. Abducting Harry seems more like a goofy flight of fancy than something we’re meant to take literally. But it’s just not funny enough.

Blake is obviously an accomplished songwriter, but her tunes fall neatly into the show’s two camps: droll patter-style songs that raise a smile, and soaring, beat-driven nouveau boyband numbers that come across as excessively earnest. 

‘Fangirls’ has its moments and might even be pretty great if it was totally redirected. But ultimately it feels like a missed opportunity - more Matt Cardle than One Direction.

Details

Address
Lyric Hammersmith
Lyric Square, King St
London
W6 0QL
Transport:
Tube: Hammersmith
Price:
£15-£44. Runs 2hr 30min

Dates and times

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