Cheeky Girls

August 24, 2022 | By More

★★★★☆      Unbounded promise

theSpace @ Niddry St (Venue 9): Mon 22 – Sat 27 Aug 2022
Review by Hugh Simpson

The Counterminers’ Cheeky Girls, at theSpace @ Niddry St for the Fringe’s final week, is a comic drama of almost unlimited potential.

The show’s publicity on the EdFringe website leads with the description of the possible resurrection of Jesus. This may be to attract attention, but does the production few favours, as it is only a very small part of the story. There is no need for such shock tactics to promote a play this good.

Emer Williams in Cheeky Girls. Pic Cara Fidelo.

Florence Carr-Jones’s beautifully written script has a situation that has become increasingly familiar since a certain Fringe production in 2013 – a young woman talking to the audience, showing her problems with friends, relationships and the world in general with candour and little emotional filter.

Not that there is anything derivative about this, although it has to be said that the episodic structure seems geared as much towards a possible TV series as a play. Which is only what this will ultimately deserve.

There is a zip, vivacity and economy to Carr-Jones’s dialogue that is done full justice by Emer Williams as central character Freddie. Williams has real stage presence, a wonderful facility for comedy and a knack of connecting with the audience. The physicality of her performance is highly impressive, communicating awkwardness and abandon, confidence and anxiety with equal facility.

life and believability

The other two ‘cheeky girls’ of the title (which, once again, perhaps gives the wrong idea) are Freddie’s housemates Flick and Molly. In comparison to the carefully drawn central character, they come across more as archetypes, but Georgia Gabrielides and Minna Gillett give the characters life and believability.

Emer Williams, Minna Gillett, and Huw Turnbull in Cheeky Girls. Pic Cara Fidelo.

Huw Turnbull is suitably oily as Freddie’s tutor, while Leonardo Shaw has enormous energy in a succession of exaggerated, extremely funny male roles (although the various accents are not all equally successful).

Carr-Jones and co-director Ruby Loftus’s staging is constantly inventive, and makes noticeably good use of the entire auditorium. There is an effervescence to the production, even in its more downbeat moments, that is irresistible.

Only a couple of things let it down. The references to Freddie’s student existence do stray decidedly into in-joke territory on occasion, while towards the close the script starts to deal in platitudes, with the ending less than satisfactory.

Overall, however, this is an extremely enjoyable production, and both writer and central performer should be watched.

Running time: 55 minutes (no interval)
theSpace @ Niddry St (Lower Theatre), Niddry St, EH1 1TH (Venue 9).
Monday 22 – Saturday 27 August 2022
Daily at 18:05
Information and tickets: Book here.

Company website: https://counterminers.co.uk
Facebook: @TheCounterminers

Emer Williams, Georgia Gabrielides and Minna Gillett in Cheeky Girls. Pic Cara Fidelo.

ENDS

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