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Photo: Irene Blainey

Fringe Review: The Shape of a Girl

By Courtney Merchand on June 15, 2019

The Shape of a Girl
by Joan MacLeod
60min / 14+ / Drama

To the onlooker, the shape of a girl is ordinary, average, a little melodramatic and forever at war with her mom. But not every girl is shaped the same and any teenage girl could pick apart what makes any one of them different from the next.

Inspired by the vicious 1997 murder of 14-year-old Reena Virk in B.C., you hope the heart-wrenching play is a timestamp on how far we’ve come as a society against bullying, but it’s not. From the perspective of the main character—Braidie–a story about a schoolmate named Sophie unfolds in an all too familiar and paralleled way. Sophie’s story brings us back to the present and serves as a reminder that we aren’t anywhere near a society that fosters girls uplifting girls and that there’s still work to be done.

Eerily powerful and resonating.

Unlike its original debut as Joan MacLeod’s somber one-woman show, the production team opted for a more striking approach for this rendition. Braidie is played by three young women that are all dressed identically in a white t-shirt, blue jeans, bare feet and a black headband. Aside from one delivering her lines with a little more sass, one with a little more innocence and one a little keener, they are completely interchangeable.

The choice to have three women present as one is made clear when the voices recite carefully selected lines in unison that is eerily powerful and resonating.

Braidie is fixated on the ordinary and average shape of the girls that committed the attack on Reena, the shape of monster. Although she’s just a bystander, afraid to speak up for herself or for Sophie, her greatest fear is that her shape is also that of a monster.

Whether you’ve seen The Shape of a Girl before, I guarantee you’ve never seen it performed like this.


The Shape of a Girl by Joan MacLeod is playing at LabO (10 Daly Ave) until Sunday June 23, 2019. Tickets cost $12 online (plus a $2 processing fee) and at the door. Visit ottawafringe.com for the schedule and box office info. Read more reviews at apt613.ca/fringe.

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