Girls Like That

Evan Placey’s Girls Like That (first performed at London’s Unicorn Theatre three years ago) came to Edinburgh’s Traverse Theatre—courtesy of the neighbouring Lyceum Theatre’s Youth wing—with added meaning. It can’t be coincidence that this new bold production, exploring gender inequality in young people’s online lives, opened on International Women’s Day. And, being Edinburgh, its “special” group of St Helen’s schoolgirls couldn’t help but echo the iconic Miss Jean Brodie’s “crème de la crème”.

Girls Like That touches on many issues: that said, its funnier than you might expect

Except there is no Miss Brodie imposing her will on this group; that it’s up to the girls themselves—from preparatory class onwards—to work out their own hierarchies. And right at the bottom is Scarlett. So what happens—ironically enough, for the St Helen’s Girls, during a history lesson on the suffragettes—when a naked photo of Scarlett is leaked online? Will the “St Helen’s Girls” throw up a protective circle around her? No. Almost immediately, they’re bitching about her body, comparing breast sizes and body fat—and denouncing her as a slut deserving “everything that’s coming” to her.

A succession of historical flashbacks notwithstanding—focused on times when Scarlett’s mother, grandmother and great-grandmother stood up for women’s emancipation—the play asks why “girls have become the arseholes the boys used to be”. But then, it appears that young people’s digital lives today are just as unequal as past generations: when a photo of Russell, the boy Scarlett is assumed to have slept with, appears online, he’s admired for his muscular nakedness and the size of his cock. The old cliche continues: a man who sleeps around is a stud, a woman who does so is a slut.

Quite deliberately, Scarlett is the only one of the girls on stage that’s given a name; and, unlike the original production which necessarily restricted class numbers, here the Lyceum Youth Theatre can put up a cast of 20, crammed into the Lyceum’s smaller performance space and forming a brilliantly oppressive realisation of the mob mentality. Director/producer Rachael Esdale must be congratulated for successfully choreographing such a large cast, periodically called back to their old primary school playground rows by an ever-punctual school bell. Some notable performers notwithstanding, the strength of this production is in its near-perfect ensemble.

Girls Like That touches on many issues: that said, its funnier than you might expect, and it’s a shame that not everyone in the cast manages to effectively land the more subtle punchlines. Overall, though, this production is a welcome reminder that today’s young women have somehow become so insecure and judgemental to become their own worst allies. Boys will be boys, we’re told, but do girls really now have to be like that too?

Reviews by Paul F Cockburn

The Lyceum

Cyrano de Bergerac

Traverse Theatre

Arctic Oil

Multiple Venues


Multiple Venues


Dundee Rep Theatre / Macrobert Arts Centre

The Yellow on the Broom

Underbelly, Bristo Square

Tom Neenan: It's Always Infinity




The Blurb

When a naked photo of Scarlett goes viral, rumours ricochet from smartphone to smartphone, her reputation is trashed and her friendships turn sour. When the same thing happens to a boy he’s just one of the lads. Girls Like That explores gender inequality in the digital minefield of young people’s online lives.