Review: White Girls – Amy King

Show: White Girls
Venue: Gilded Balloon Teviot
Star rating: *****
Reviewer: Amy King

Francesca Bloor and Valerie Smith are, in a word, brilliant.

Their show, White Girls, follows Eve and Leah as they travel to Calais on their gap year to volunteer in The Jungle, a refugee camp, in 2016. They don’t speak French, but the hostel will do and they seem to have the uniform right – bumbags and Timberland boots. They share their experiences of working in the distribution centre and the kitchen. Quick costume changes bring life to new characters – volunteers, refugees, police. It’s fast-paced and they make it easy to fall in love with young Jamil and follow them in frustration with the entire situation.

They’re almost too relatable, which makes my stomach churn with shame. The show holds up a mirror and forces us to reflect on our own (lack of) understanding of what is happening in Calais, Dunkirk, Syria, Iraq, Iran. Weaving in audio clips of news stories and fact-checking dance breaks, Bloor and Smith have set out to tell us what we should already know. It’s highly effective.

White Girls is performed with a near-brutal candour. It’s a live deconstruction of self-confessed “bad people”. They don’t hide their struggles, their vanity, or not knowing where Kurdistan is. And, with great skill, they still made us laugh.

This show is a brilliant commentary pulling apart white knight syndrome, voluntourism and the Global West’s inaction around the refugee crisis, twisting the peak white feminism knife in my stomach and forcing us to confront our reliance on the sensationalist suffrage porn the news outlets and governments have spouted for their own gain.

White Girls was challenging – pushing us to re-evaluate what we know about the refugee experience and how we react.  An incredibly timely work that everyone should see and then take their advice: do something.

White Girls: tickets available here
Gilded Balloon
24-26 August
11am (1 hour)

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