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  • Grace Sansom

★★★★ We Could All Be Perfect review - Tanya Moiseiwitsch Playhouse

The Company of We Could All Be Perfect. Photo by Becky Payne.

We Could All Be Perfect achieves something quite beautiful. Hannah Morley’s writing and Ruby Clarke’s direction unite in a fiercely sensitive and hilarious triumph. If you have been, or ever known, a teenage girl, this play will fill your veins with glittering joy, insight, and pride. The team behind We Could All Be Perfect prove that teenage girls do more than giggle - they create and nurture the strongest communities (but are pretty great at giggling too).

The play is a series of interjected sketches and short scenes that depict different elements of the teenage girl experience, performed by a stellar cast of five young women. Over decades of girlhood, We Could All Be Perfect shows the implications of a girl’s ‘firsts’ that span across the ages – first time on the beach with your changing body, first unwanted stare from an older man, first song that makes you scream, first time in society – be that societal debutant or TikTok dance - first kiss, first proposal (think Pride and Prejudice and Young Adult fanfic collide) and more. As your consciousness (and hips) begin to grow, you feel your life being shaped by your experiences for the first time. You’re a sponge to your surroundings but still armoured with that childlike bravery to take on the world. And that’s exactly what this play does.

The only recurring scenes that relate to each other are those of an apocalyptic nightmare – think The Last of Us – in which teenage girls must band together. Morley writes of their unbridled trust in each other, and the selfless care that provides sanctuary. These moments are touching and pierce straight through the play’s use of overt symbolism, presenting a grounding nuance that cannot be ignored. The girls trust in each other and feel safe: they’re united by generational experiences.

Rosa Hesmondhalgh and Heather Forster in We Could All Be Perfect. Photo by Becky Payne.

Sheffield Theatres deserves championing (always, but especially here) for how this play has captured the beautiful intricacies and obvious struggles of generational girlhood, all in an hour and a half and with a small, but mighty, creative team. It’s a gorgeous stroke of genius. Gerwig’s Barbie, take notes!!!!

Designers Rūta Irbīte and Jessie Addinall dress the stage in an illuminated platform, with audiences sitting on either side. There is an angle left unexposed, and the girls relish in this. Under neon lights, our cast scream, cry, dance, laugh and embrace; their storytelling feels empowered and all-encompassing, their performances delicious and devastating. I loved the detail in the pink costumes, even the audience was a sea of pink, as though a voluntary accessory of the play’s design. I loved the writing and I want to buy the text and tattoo quotes across my body.

We were lucky enough to catch this play on press night, and will be going back again, and again! There’s a necessity, an urgency, surrounding We Could All Be Perfect: it’s a play you have to see. It does what extraordinary theatre should – captures a universal experience through delicate layers that have the ability to reach individuals differently. It’s striking. I arrived at the Playhouse as my frazzled 23-year-old self but watched it as my ferocious 13-year-old self, who’s still the coolest person I’ve ever met. I’m going to channel her more often.

We Could All Be Perfect has stuck with me, in the way glitter does after a party. It clings to everything you have, and its sparkle isn’t going anywhere – and I don’t want it to.


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