Girls Who Think They’re Hot is one of the most intriguing and creative productions I’ve seen at the Fringe in years and a terrific introduction to Lumina Theatre.
Full of biting sarcasm and sardonic wit, executed with skill, the production takes itself just seriously enough to be outrageously funny without being snarky.
The director Ritchie Porter has respect for the material and assures the full-out articulation of the premise that surrealism is as scary as the boogie man since it upsets the clear boundaries between the real and, well, the surreal.
The piece is set in 1950 white bread America and the deliriously funny script by David Minton uses a Rod Serling-type narrator, played to the hilt by Michael Novello whose voice, cadence and calm manner warn of the dangers that await unsuspecting innocent minds. That the play opens at the dramatic climax, then picks up at the beginning is a wonderful time-bending touch since the two young women’s exuberant exclamations about being “hot” have an entirely unexpected meaning by then.
Minton covers immense swatches of territory with the characters depicting aspects of surrealism as an addictive substance bringing unnatural meanings to the otherwise perfectly coiffed Donna Reid-styled world.
The skillful actors under Porter’s solid direction whip the outrageous shenanigans into a foaming froth starting with Clare Lefebure as the sweet innocent school girl Poppy Topp whose world view suddenly shifts when she became intrigued by a wild-eyed bizarre stranger named Skrunk played by Claire Koenig. “Run Poppy, run!” the narrator warns, but it’s too late. Poppy has already been influenced by the weird girl who jabs a spoon in the dirt presumably digging her way to China.
Will Poppy join her in that surreal project and change her life forever? Because all it takes is that first step, some innocent bit that looks on the surface like playful silliness– what harm could it do, right? Think again, my friend, because in this kooky surreal world, a banana can shoot like a gun and characters drop to their death, only to peek up wondering if they’ve really met their demise by way of a piece of fruit. Sophisticated hilarity really does ensue.
The merry band of young actors have lots of stage credit performing far beyond their teen years—Raphael Grimes, Maya Davis, Kiva Brick, Marcus Gordon, and Robert Schepis—while older veteran (but not by much) Maya Kozarsky rounds out the playful bunch.
Also noteworthy is the sound designer-engineer (not identified in the program, but Thank you!), since the 1950’s music and sound cues galore had to strike with razor sharp precision to work.
One will be hard pressed to find something as innovative and fun to watch as part of the Fringe. For more, Lumina is also staging another original show, Monsters, in August at Round House Silver Spring.
Girls Who Think They’re Hot has 5 performances between July 14 and 28 at the Fort Fringe Redrum, 612 L St NW, Washington, DC.
Details and tickets
Debbie rates this a 5 out of a possible 5, making it a Pick of the Fringe!