Buzz, Press

Ruth McCann, The Village Voice

All the 11-year-old girls starring in Keep Your Eyes Open (Cherry Lane Theatre) know the “Soulja Boy” lyrics and the accompanying dance. And judging by these ladies’ canny looks of disapproval, it seems they know exactly what Soulja is saying about that ho. These girls are barely a decade old, and it’s soul-crushing to be reminded that the full burden of Hilton-Richie-Spears-dom is being allowed to fall on their tiny shoulders. But the kids are coping well, and they’ve pulled an energetic show about female preadolescent hell from their own small wells of angst.

Based on workshops the girls did with the PossEble Theater Company, Keep Your Eyes Open comprises a string of scenes and reflections from girl-world, all emceed by the young Winnifred (Winnifred BonJean-Alpart, who performs better than many adults at Fringe). The plot (the kids become less fretful, more feministy) is as thin as an Olsen, and the girls would be well-served by some mics, but the sparkling young ones provide frequent moments of sheer, hilarious glee (Winnifred declaims “Soulja Boy,” beat-poet-style). The girls vent about chauvinistic gym teachers, fickle friends, climate change, Disney’s “subliminal bullying,” and the dearth of women in their history curriculum. Though we’ve heard it all before, it’s heartening to see the sincerity flashing in those 11 pairs of doe-eyes.