Almost Full: A Young Girl’s Guide to Growing Up is an exploration and examination of teenage lives through a variety of artistic methods. The girls use poetry, soliloquy, movement, music, and dance to express their personal truths.
The show consists of 29 vignettes that were created during a retreat for their program, SPEAK Girls. Each piece was created by one or several of the girls. The directors and facilitators helped them choose what to put in the show and in what order it should be presented.
Creating and performing an original show is an impressive feat for a cast of teenage girls. A majority of the performances are poetic musings on their present life or hopes and dreams accompanied by various movement choices. One of the best parts is the original song “Breaking Down Doors” that the girls perform on acoustic guitar. Another is the finale: a choreographed dance to Sara Bareilles’ hit song “Brave.” Watching the girls have fun together on stage will definitely make you smile and might make you want to join in.
As they take turns performing and posing with their journals around the stage, the audience gets to hear them touch on an a wide array of topics. They give colors and actions to their feelings. They act out synonyms for the bullying they struggle with and for the way triumph feels. They create shapes and sounds with their bodies. They talk about the hopes and dreams of a life just beginning, and, together, they create a picture of who they are and who they want to be.
Almost Full has the potential to be a very sophisticated performance, but it unfortunately falls flat at the delivery of the text. The lack of inflection and purpose doesn’t do their eloquent writing justice. The girls all had a large amount of material to work on and memorize in a short period, so they spent much of the show reading notes directly out of the prop journals they carried on stage. It probably would have felt less like a high school show if they had spent more time working less material.
You can see each girl give it her all during their solo performances, but Jay and Laurel were the most entertaining to watch. They really understood their lines and delivered them well. Overall, the strongest pieces were the ones the cast performed together, like “A Letter to My Body.” There’s something to be said about the power of teamwork and being able to use each other’s strengths to compensate for weaknesses.
I commend the girls for continuing their show despite an interruption. Someone in the church had opened the fire door which set of an alarm. It stunned the girls for a minute or two but once their director gave them the okay signal that there wasn’t a real fire issue. It would be difficult for anyone to focus with a blaring alarm going off in the background, but, aside from a few looks at each other and giggles, the girls finished anyway.
When I looked around the audience, I noticed it was filled with beaming parents and family members. After seeing the show, it’s clear they have every reason to be proud of their girls.
Almost Full was conceived by the company and directed by Jenna Stotts, Brooke Viegut and Erin Villaronga and presented at Capital Fringe 2018.