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Ask Me Anything

Birmingham Hippodrome – Patrick Studio


I don’t know about you, but when I think about expressing your identity as a teenager, there are two things that spring to mind: taste in music, and loudly decorated bedrooms. And that’s exactly what Ask Me Anything, The Paper Birds latest show, is built around.

The doors to the studio open and the audience start to enter, but there’s already a twist and we’re invited to choose between sitting ever so properly on the theatre’s chairs, or lounging on one of the beanbags strewn across the floor, almost sharing the stage with the performers. It’s immersive.

From the moment the lights go down, and even a bit before then, the three performers, Georgie Coles, Rosie Doonan, and Kylie Perry begin milling around, and making conversation; because that’s what this unusual piece of theatre is: a conversation.

Nostalgic for the days of dial-up internet, and agony aunt pages, the three girls begin to reminisce about their own adolescence and wonder whether their “problems” were any different from the youth of today.

This becomes the basis of the show: an informal dive into a list of questions that were actually written to them from young people around the United Kingdom, answered with humorous honesty from Kylie and Georgie, and accompanied by the phenomenal musical talent of Rosie.

It’s signposted very early on that some of these questions are going to be hard hitting, and out of respect for those affected, it’s appropriate and a well-considered move. For the majority, though, the piece is full of energy and laughter and it even gets to the girls at times! That’s the thing though, some of it sounds scripted and rehearsed, yet other moments feel completely spontaneous. For a play that explores questioning identities, it never quite answers its own.

The set is split into three bedrooms which – we’re told – are replications of the three performers’ own teenage hideouts. Everywhere you look bursts with the creativity of pubescents, but without being so cluttered that you miss the various screens on which a fourth character defines the modern lingo and fact checks almost everything.

The use of multimedia is fantastic. Some of the play is captioned, and then we see the use of a smartphone, videos from external people are played throughout to remind us all how real these situations are. What’s really impressive is the feed from the live camcorder which the girls’ position so perfectly, that you actually think you’re watching a TV show and not what’s happening before you.

Ask Me Anything definitely speaks to the young at heart and is relevant for anybody who’s suffered the trials and tribulations of being a teenager. It’ll pick you up and throw you down and pick you up again but this time with love. It would just be great if this could reach an audience that isn’t so familiar with the real hardships that today’s young people are facing.

Richard Scott


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