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SHEWOLVES - Southwark Playhouse Review

Writer: Jess Green

There is arguably nothing that society deems sillier than a teenage girl. SHEWOLVES, originally written by Sarah Middleton for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2022, dismisses this stereotype knee high socks first and illustrates both the depth and the resilience of female adolescence.

Photo by Pamela Raith
The script follows an eco-conscious Lou (Harriet Waters) and her new friend Priya (Gurjot Dhaliwal), both escaping their home lives whilst one endeavours to save the future of their generation and the other seeks a desperately needed sense of stability. The funny, yet moving script tackles fractious mother-daughter dynamics, racism and activism, as well as the life-bloods of the pubescent: Love Island and Instagram.
In combination with the powerful portrayal by these two talented young actresses, who expertly bridge the gap between the frivolous and the meaningful, it encapsulates the intricacies of the often diminished female teenage experience, as well as the rich complexity of a generation who feel abandoned by their elders, both emotionally and environmentally. The characters learn across the course of the story, that doing a good thing isn't always applauded or even accepted and that it sometimes takes colossal effort to disband the preconceptions that others may have of you.
Significant to me, was the contrast of Lou and Priya’s personalities, which were seemingly shaped to demonstratethe moral quandary of today’s youth – how to balance the desperate will to enact meaningful change in the world, with the burning desire to simply enjoy themselves.
The clever use of lighting, two quite rudimentary set pieces and curtain that lived many lives throughout the hour, evoked clear imagery of the girls’ ever-changing location and time of day, leaving the actors to act, rather than enhance the scene setting. The Derbyshire accents, hilariously specific regional slang and Dhaliwal’s comedic attention to detail transported me back to forgotten moments of my own youth in the East Midlands. The tiny details in direction, such as the gum-revealing lip tuckwhich nobody can truthfully deny having done themselves, make this so very relatable to any of us who can remember our school days.

Photo by Pamela Raith

Directed by Hannah Stone, this coming of age play has so demonstrably been produced in co-operation with teens, for teens, evidencing to me a gap in the theatre market I hadn't until now realised existed. Ultimately the piece brings levity and relatability to young adults who feel so misunderstood, overlooked and burdened by the responsibility of their generation's future. I would love for this play to be developed into longer piece. It’s current hour length means that the wealth of worthy issues raised were a little cursory and the touching, more subtle moments of sincerity that really reveal the heart of these two lost girls, were a little overshadowed by some of the more chaotic scenes. Equally, the juxtaposition between these two moods, I thought very accurately represented the youthful ability to be mid-meltdown one minute, and throwing a dance party with your best friend the next.


There is much that teenagers could take from this play, and I hope have, during it’s recent school tour: the importance of doing what you think is right, despite the criticism it may bring you, the significance of having a “wolfpack to support you and the necessity of asking for help.

The ending for me was heart-wrenching, reminding us that a 14 year old who, whilst a burgeoning woman with autonomyviews on morality and a future to safeguard, can still be comforted by the arms of a listening adult and a piping hot pop tart. 

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

SHEWOLVES plays at Southwark Playhouse Borough until Saturday 8th July 2023. Tickets are available from

Photo by Pamela Raith

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