Fight Song is part of this year’s programme of four plays by students from the celebrated CalIfornia Institute of the Arts (CalArts) at Venue 13. It maintains the tradition of creating original material and imaginative productions.
A solid play with quality performances and an intriguing storyline.
The play opens in the small town of Sweetwater, Texas in 1964, where "the only thing bigger than football is Jesus Christ and women’s hair". Cheerleaders are obviously football fanatics, though often more obsessed with the players than the game. In rural Texas religious observance is the norm and all young women have to look good both morally and in appearance. Tragedy strikes when four such girls are involved in a deadly car crash. They re-awaken in a dark, mysterious underworld, not fully appreciating what has happened, why they are there, or for how long they have been there. They just know that something is terribly wrong with their existence.
Samuel Camp enters as a mysterious, casually brown-suited figure who turns out to be Lucifer. Later, from the opposite diagonal, Sophia McDowell appears in a stunning white dress. She is God and together they engage in conversation over which of them can claim the girls. Meanwhile the cheerleaders, played by Angela Rosado, Fiona Casper-Strauss, Olivia McKown and Hasti Bakian go over their lives. In so doing, animosities, prejudices, egos and downright bitchiness emerge in heated exchanges which are balanced by moments of caring, support and philosophical speculation. They are a well-balanced troupe who create individualised characters with clear identities. Gabrielle Galloway interrupts the girls as The Ghost of the Country Bumpkin, with some delightfully coy and amusing monologues.
Powerfully written and directed with elegant simplicity by Lauren Ashton Baker, Fight Song has delightful costumes by Sonya Berg and an emotive sound design from Jacenta Yu. It’s a solid play with quality performances and an intriguing storyline.