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Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

Northwestern University and Evanston's Only Daily News Source Since 1881

The Daily Northwestern

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Friendship bracelets and murder: ‘Blood Pact’ weaves anger, pain of girlhood

Photo courtesy of Kate Horton
Vertigo Productions’ “Blood Pact,” which played in Shanley on Friday and Saturday, highlights the anger and arguments of girlhood.

Content warning: This story contains mention of sexual assault.

Forget summer camps and tie-dye T-shirts. Vertigo Productions’ “Blood Pact” points a lens on the darker aspects of girlhood, where friendship bracelets are weaved with anger and dyed with blood.

Written by Communication senior Frances Mary McKittrick, “Blood Pact” explores the reality of a girlhood filled with anger and struggle. The show, directed by Communication sophomore Kate Horton and produced by Communication sophomore Wylde Laden, played Friday and Saturday at Shanley Pavilion. 

In the first scene of the play, four girls emerge from darkness. Harper (Communication sophomore Nora James Eikner) is energized with a need to prove herself. Hanna (Communication sophomore Nastia Goddard is headstrong, dramatic and, sometimes, authentic to a fault. Emmy (Communication sophomore Ani Kabillio) is guarded and ambitious. Thea (Weinberg sophomore Zakyra Ashby) is compassionate, caring and worried. 

Amid an involved conversation, the play starts when they are discovered in the sandbox by Alix (Communication junior Caroline Humphrey), Harper’s stern yet compassionate older sister.

Best friends spending the summer after fifth grade on Cape Cod, Massachusetts, the girls bicker for the majority of the play, and while the arguments seem innocent and even petty at first, the dark reasons behind their outbursts slowly burn through. Unwanted sexual advances from Jackson, Emmy’s stepbrother, plague three of the girls. All four craft a secret plan to kill Jackson because of their shared fear that no one would believe them.

 If there were one word to describe this play, it would be anger. Throughout every scene, each character is charged with emotions: grief, worry and, most of all, anger. Anger at each other, collective anger towards Jackson and his actions and anger at the world for not understanding their experiences. The play’s consistent emotional poignancy felt like a validation of the inexplicable anger of girlhood: of transitioning from a naive child into a teen with something to say.

The actors brilliantly portray the complications of girlhood. Goddard effortlessly shifts between anger, sadness, pain and devastation. Ashby quietly mediates conflict but lets out a flood of desperate emotion in a plea for togetherness. Kabillio acutely displays her character’s loneliness in many devastating outbursts. Eikner lit up the stage with her energy and enthusiasm, revealing the insecurities and vulnerabilities of her character. Humphrey shows both the coolness and the patient compassion of an older sister in the scenes she’s in.

The production elements of the show were also executed strongly. Communication sophomores Alex Yang and Austin Kelly designed a light-sound flow to create an uncomfortable yet nostalgic tone. Transitions between scenes were seamless and creatively showed the darkness of the girls’ trauma with unstable flickering lights. 

SESP sophomore Emma Manley’s costume design was filled with solid colors, high socks and vintage t-shirts that brought audiences to the 2000s setting. An especially timely highlight was the bright feather boa scarves worn by the girls during an ecstatic performance of “Boom Boom Pow” by the Black Eyed Peas. 

Shanley’s space did feel limiting at times, however. At points, the alley-oriented stage made it difficult for audiences to discern the characters’ expressions. 

Overall, the play was a stellar combination of acting, direction, creative script writing and production aesthetics. Its open ending was meaningful in its choice to leave audiences feeling unresolved, lingering in worry and fear. It delivered the final note in an angry song about all the little-known and undiscussed dangers of girlhood.

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