GIRLWRECKED GIRLWRECKED GIRLWRECKED
written and performed by Soraya Peerbaye, co-devised and directed by Karin Randoja. Presented by Akimbo Productions at the Great Hall (1087 Queen West). Runs to February 11, Wednesday-Saturday 8 pm, matinee Sunday 2:30 pm. $15 (sliding scale), Sunday pwyc. 416-652-1914. Rating: NNN conformity or compassion? in Soraya Peerbaye's Girlwrecked, the young schoolgirl Rana must choose between the two. Coming from Mauritius, dressed in Muslim hijab and long skirt, she's the 11-year-old new Canadian, the nervous outsider at school. Rana's immediately attracted to the renegade red-haired Roz, who stands out as much as Rana but likes it that way.
Peerbaye and co-creator/director Karin Randoja give attractive spirit to this tale of a twosome drawn to each other on several levels -- physical and emotional -- and forced to fight back to back against the so-called normal kids.
Peerbaye, who has strong stage presence, lends the characters a simple honesty, notably the gum-chewing, saucy, hand-on-hip Roz, the initially shy Rana and the popular Fiona. She captures the characters physically and verbally, bringing a nice humour to the piece, as someone who is "other" grows up to become a part of the in-crowd, and then regrets it.
The narrative details in Peerbaye's writing are sometimes hazy, and the script has some unnecessary touches of melodrama, but there's much that's gripping in performance, helped along by Michael Kruse's sometimes surprising lighting design and director Randoja's insistence on a physical directness that keeps the audience emotionally tied to the characters.