Ends Dec 31

School Girls; or, The African Mean Girls Play

Members say: Great acting, Funny, Relevant, Entertaining, Clever
86
Critics
82
22 reviews
Members
87
91 reviews
 

MCC Theater's buoyant and biting world-premiere comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe. How far would you go to be queen bee?

... Read more

Paulina, the reigning Queen Bee at Ghana's most exclusive boarding school, has her sights set on the Miss Universe pageant. But the mid-year arrival of Ericka, a new student with undeniable talent and beauty, captures the attention of the pageant recruiter – and Paulina’s hive-minded friends. Directed by Tony-winner Rebecca Taichman ('Indecent.')

 

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Reviews (113)

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
82
Avg Score

90
Theatermania

"One of the funniest shows of the season, benefiting not just from sharp writing, but a stellar cast that knows how to ground this comedy in real stakes...Director Rebecca Taichman has impressively fostered a familiarity within the cast that makes it seems as though they've been living together for years...It would be easy to condemn Paulina as a mean girl, but Bioh forces us to question how she became that way." Full Review

75
Variety

"Delightful ensemble work...The play is full of light and laughter...It’s impossible not to laugh at their clever, but cruel schoolgirl humor. At the same time, it’s impossible not to brood over the importance they place on skin tone...One thing you cannot call this play is subtle...Bioh goes too far with the character of Paulina, who is an insufferably over-the-top narcissist and far too polished a villain." Full Review

80
BroadwayWorld

"Endearing and poignant...Taichman delivers another spot-on production, with Bioh's realistic blend of humor and bite swiftly making its points in a play that's solidly satisfying...The joy of the moment comes when watching the young women with limited singing capabilities cheerfully having their moment in the spotlight...With the rest of the play being funny and issue-oriented, 'School Girls' is most touching when focused on the nice girls." Full Review

85
The Hollywood Reporter

"A ferociously entertaining morality tale that proves as heartwarming as it is hilarious...Bioh makes an auspicious playwriting debut with this uproarious comedy that also pulls at the heartstrings...The broad humor occasionally lacks subtlety, and the piece feels like an extended one-act. But when was the last time you wished a play were actually longer?...Taichman provides a fast-paced staging that makes the play engaging from first minute to last." Full Review

85
The New York Times

"The nasty-teen comedy genre emerges wonderfully refreshed and even deepened by its immersion in a world it never considered...Beneath the infectious silliness of Biog's play’s adopted genre, the ugly question of internalized racism lurks...Mostly and smartly, she trusts the form; there’s a reason these stories work. Ms. Taichman’s production highlights all of those reasons...One of the production’s chief assets is the delicious ensemble work." Full Review

80
Time Out New York

"Nearly assaultive hilarity...'School Girls' is a kind of Bioh bonanza; after several seasons of settling for just one of her, there are suddenly eight...Her brief play is missing its middle...Taichman leans so far into the bright Punch-and-Judy colors of the first 50 minutes that the last, humanistic 20 seem to take place on a different planet. Still, Bioh knows how to write a stunning breakdown scene, and Boafo handles the tonal switcheroo with ease." Full Review

75
New York Theater

"An often unsubtle but ultimately stimulating new play...What becomes clear is how deliberate Bioh’s crafting of her play and how intriguing her insights...The playwright also deftly draws character dynamics...Director Rebecca Taichman exhibits none of the ingenuity in stagecraft that won her the Tony...What the production has going for it above all is its eight-member cast — all wonderful, all women, an ensemble whose girlish enthusiasm feels so real that we revel in it.." Full Review

85
Lighting & Sound America

"Rebecca Taichman's direction hits all the right notes, lightly spoofing the girls' aspirations while also demonstrating that these beautiful, bubbly, intelligent young creatures are beguiling enough without having to borrow from Western culture. The cast is loaded with fresh faces you'll want to see again...It's even easier to imagine bright futures for the talented young ladies of the cast and their playwright, all of whom make their mark in this delightful comedy-drama." Full Review

85
Theatre's Leiter Side

“It matters little that the situations are old-hat, contrived, and manipulative; the African setting gives it a delightful twist, it's written with much wit, and it's so well-played by a first-rate cast, that you find yourself absorbed from its first words to its last. A huge hand must go to…director…Taichman for making this play so…spirited. 'School Girls'…has some moments of bitterly divisive meanness but, with its plentiful laughs and tears, it's also uplifting, unifying, and funny.” Full Review

70
Front Row Center

"It is a lot of fun—punctuated by moments of stunning cruelty and painful revelation...There is much that rings painfully true in Bioh’s seventy-minute immersion in those estrogen-charged, initiation-to-adulthood dramas, rife with both tenderly shared secrets and blindsiding betrayals. But there is something more here...'School Girls' delivers enough punch to keep you engaged and entertained—even if the payoff punch is a tad short of a knockout." Full Review

85
Deadline

“While you’re waiting for the musical version of the movie to arrive on Broadway this spring, warm up with this remarkable journey into a Ghanaian girls’ school...Staged by Taichman with an irresistible combination of verve and sensitivity, ‘School Girls’ is pretty impossible not to love, even as the play takes a predictable turn into heart-on-sleeve coming-of-age territory. The ensemble is flawless and so engaging that this MCC Theater production has now been extended twice." Full Review

90
TheaterScene.net

“Highly comic and poignant...a fresh take on the familiar terrain of feuding high school girls. It's a substantive comedy that’s superbly staged and wonderfully performed...Bioh’s snappy dialogue perfectly renders the rhythms of teenage lingo and the pain beneath the bravado, emitting the universality of adolescence. Bioh’s construction is meticulous....Besides the foreign setting there’s nothing really 'new' about the play but’s it’s so well written and gloriously presented." Full Review

90
Gotham Playgoer

“A delightful play…There are hilarious examples of their misunderstanding of American culture…Bioh overlays the well-worn conventions of teenage cliques and beauty pageant competition with an additional ingredient: colorism…Has anything changed since 1986? Come, find out and be entertained. The actors are all wonderful. Director Rebecca Taichman has demonstrated her usual sure but deft hand.” Full Review

65
The Wrap

“Is there anything new and funny to be said about beauty contests? Bioh takes on that challenge in her new and very first play...Bioh sets that most superficial of competitions in a girls’ boarding school in the Aburi Mountains of central Ghana...Taichman directs her young actors to deliver their performances in bright, primary colors...Comedy can be serious business, but Bioh doesn’t trust her own humor...When did plays become skits with a moral stuck on at the end?” Full Review

80
CitiTour

"A first-rate production of Jocelyn Bioh’s very funny (and ultimately very sad) 'School Girls'...Bioh smartly captures the way teenagers talk and act towards each other...Fortunately, Bioh does equally well with the play’s two adult characters...Everything has been immaculately staged by Tony Award winner Rebecca Taichman, who guides all the women to sure-handed performances...The play feels a little slight sometimes...But its conclusion is just right." Full Review

90
Theater Pizzazz

“There is another very different 'Mean Girls' getting ready to launch on Broadway shortly that Tina Fey is working on. But, believe me, nothing could rival the 'African Mean Girls Play'...Not to be missed. Bioh is to be congratulated on her ability to create a very humorous script bringing topical/important issues to light, together with Taichman on her always splendid creativity in directing this oh, so talented cast.” Full Review

80
scribicide

"Ms. Bioh has flawlessly captured the rhythms and speech patterns of anxiety-ridden teens, with their razor-sharp lines of social demarcation and their endless reserve of passive aggression. But this is also a play whose characters do not fit the cardboard-cutout roles of traditional teen comedies." Full Review

80
New York Magazine / Vulture

"Funny and fast-paced...Under Taichman’s confident hand, 'School Girls' rolls swiftly through its 75 minutes...'School Girls' is formulaic without being unsatisfying. Familiar structures, especially when full of fresh faces and sharp humor, can be deeply enjoyable...Its emotional and narrative leaps are fast, even a little too fast...Bioh knows how to craft bouncy, juicy dialogue that performers can have fun with." Full Review

80
CurtainUp

"Colorism has real implications that we see brought to bear to stinging effect...This idea is explored in nuanced moments...’School Girls’ is also very funny...Sometimes, the play's brisk 75-minute pacing does lead to moments that feel simplified...It's a compliment to ‘School Girls’ to say that there could fruitfully be more of it...Bioh has crafted a fresh, keen interpretation of a frequently used trope, while Taichman and her cast have created a lively and satisfying production.” Full Review

75
Newsday

"It starts out sitcom funny, with six young women chattering...mostly about who will be chosen to compete in the coming Miss Ghana pageant...A young woman just returned from America whose lighter skin makes her in the eyes of some more likely to win...Watching these young women deal with the harsh realities thrown at them, whether with stone-faced silence or gut-wrenching primal screams, gives significant depth to plays that might otherwise seem superficial." Full Review

90
Talkin' Broadway

"That rare piece of theatre that feels authentic from beginning to end—a perfect amalgam of prescient writing, superb acting, spot-on design and savvy direction...A taut exploration of racism, colorism and classism that upends notions of self-loathing and challenges the world's definition of beauty...You'll feel the heartache and unfairness of a callous world amidst the laughter and gaiety playwright Bioh so accurately captures." Full Review

85
Exeunt Magazine

“The humor keeps the pace up and the jokes land easily...The true worth and profundity of this play emerges gradually...The characters gain depth as we learn more about them...There is something so undeniably likable about the entire cast, who have clearly formed a strong ensemble...There is an energy and honesty to all of the performances...A light directorial touch by Taichman is surely to be credited here also; a laudable approach especially in handling a first script by a new playwright.” Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews
87
Avg Score

89
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Refreshing, Great writing

See it if you want to see a time-tested story through a unique cultural lens

Don't see it if you don't want to see the work of a promising playwright finding her legs

75
Funny, Great acting, Intense, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You want to see a great cast take on the politics of skin color in an acerbic play with plenty of laughs to leaven the sad, painful reality

Don't see it if Dramas about friendship power dynamics and/or race don't interest you.

Also As far as settings go, 1986 Ghanaian boarding school is fairly specifi... Read more Read less

70
Funny, Great acting, Overrated, Entertaining, Fluffy

See it if You want to be entertained by a funny play that does not tax the brain.

Don't see it if You prefer to see serious issues raised treated with depth and genuine insight.

90
Absorbing, Delightful, Great acting, Great writing, Entertaining

See it if interested in racism in its varying forms. The subject is treated with kindness, much humor and angst. Great ensemble and direction.

Don't see it if you don't care about teenagers and their antics, self perception and the topic of racism and colorism. With all this in mind, see it anyway

81
Absorbing, Edgy, Intelligent, Resonant, Great staging

See it if you enjoy drama. This is serious subject matter tackled with a great deal of humor. Very entertaining.

Don't see it if you doubt that the U.S. and its playwrights are great.

82
Great acting, Great writing

See it if You want to see a very good show with a great cast It was a lot funnier than I expected

Don't see it if You are not interested in how high school girls can be mean to each other.

Also I was pleasantly surprised by this show. There were parts almost made ... Read more Read less

90
Great acting, Must see, Great writing

See it if beautifully crafted storyline, characters and writing appeal; superb acting; funny and intensely though-provoking simultaneously.

Don't see it if no reason not to see this

Also A real treat and great surprise. What a cast - each so perfectly cast ... Read more Read less

75
Funny, Absorbing, Great acting, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if a brief show, both funny and sad, about adolescent girls. The playwright writes funny and moving scenes. The African setting is fascinating.

Don't see it if Some of the plot points are labored and irrational, and the play feels incomplete and fragmented. Could be so much better!

89
Absorbing, Great acting, Resonant, Great writing, Great staging

See it if you want to see a well-crafted, well-acted, concise play that has a lot to say about social dynamics, with scads of unexpected humor.

Don't see it if bullying or mean girls-style situations are a trigger for you. The show handles the material deftly, but for some it may hit close to home.

88
Ambitious, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if Partner's 92 and my 82. Acting superb. It is U.S. High School moved to Ghana. Great for someone on the move as less than 80 minutes.

Don't see it if alas,there is no true solution to the bullying of so many today The Lortel has not been able to solve its "banking of the seats" problem"

85
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Intense, Relevant

See it if you want global view of childhood, race and identity or are looking for a piece exploring the toxicity in and out of social circles.

Don't see it if Africa, school girls (and their issues) or plays about race/identity in everyday life are not your coup of tea.

88
Funny, Great acting, Profound, Relevant, Great writing

See it if A wonderful comedy with serious undertones - the cast is phenomenal! Sharp script too!

Don't see it if You don’t like plays featuring teenagers or seek a musical

80
Absorbing, Great acting, Intelligent, Relevant, Resonant

See it if powerful performances that generate a range of emotions, highly relatable plot and the story of our inner selves and cultures

Don't see it if some dialogue was a bit too direct rather than revealing a character's motivations more subtly; play moves briskly through its 75 minutes

85
Funny, Absorbing, Great ensemble

See it if You don't need subtlety but do need 75 minutes of good entertainment with some important social/ racial issues thrown in.

Don't see it if You still haven't recovered from the trauma of high school.

85
Edgy, Great acting, Hilarious

See it if you enjoy themes of race, youth and ambition, set in a different and interesting locale, with a sharp, hilarious, very strong cast.

Don't see it if teen girl stories don't interest you, (albeit w/ universal appeal IMO), you have a problem with accents, or hate the idea of beauty pageants

79
Ambitious, Clever, Relevant, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you looking for an interesting meditation on the universality of the “mean girls” story.

Don't see it if you would be surprised to know we humans, no matter where in the world we are, are all more alike than we are different.

Also Jocelyn Bioh’s play is filled with angst and humor at every turn. The ... Read more Read less

90
Funny, Clever, Enchanting, Great acting, Entertaining

See it if you enjoy Mean Girls getting their comeuppance; if you like funny plays that have a little punch.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy high school antics; you want a more deep excavation into high school girls expectations of life.

70
Refreshing, Overrated, Entertaining

See it if wonderful to see a number of black women telling a story (written by a black woman) on stage in a super fun way

Don't see it if although the individual scenes are good the story does not hold as a complete work.

85
Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Great acting, Resonant

See it if You like well acted comedies based on high school. This is sharp, funny and short. Packs a punch in 70 minutes.

Don't see it if You can’t relate to high school cliques and angst.

75
Delightful, Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Entertaining

See it if You want to laugh and think at the same time. Explores facets of African life within the structure of the Tina Fey movie .

Don't see it if You want depth . Only 70 minutes so more like an episode of an ongoing series...which would be terrific

85
Great acting, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Relevant

See it if You're interested in a woman's perspective on navigating the world, esp education. Relationships, honesty, influence of family and life.

Don't see it if You don't care to understand the universality of life's curves and obstacles.

85
Clever, Intelligent, Thought-provoking, Hilarious

See it if for an exciting new playwriting voice! Bioh's writing is funny, moving, smart, and necessary. Flawlessly performed and directed.

Don't see it if school girl humor isn't your thing.

90
Ambitious, Clever, Great acting, Great writing, Great staging

See it if You are in the mood for intelligent treatment of culture clashes. This is a fab play about wished-for upward mobility of African women.

Don't see it if You are impatient with played focused on culture and mores.

86
Funny, Quirky, Relevant, Spirited

See it if You like tart exchanges between characters. Ideas of where one fits in in society and the world resonate with you. Fun laughing smart time.

Don't see it if Most would enjoy this spicy dish.

89
Funny, Intelligent, Relevant, Enlightening, Cultural

See it if You are interested in similarities and differences in cultures, how high school girls behave, intraracial discord based on societal “norms”

Don't see it if You need big fancy sets, are not interested in sensitivities around color, can’t follow English spoken with an accent