Review: What Girls Are Made Of at Traverse Theatre

Cora Bissett steers away from her previous political works to tell a coming-of-age tale about her teenage years in indie band Darlingheart.

It may not be serious, socially-motivated drama in the vein of RoadKill, but What Girls Are Made Of offers an undoubted mainstream appeal that could easily see it head to a West End stage.

The story bops along to a succession of Britpop hits from the likes of Blur, The Cranberries and Radiohead, for each of whom Darlingheart were a support act. Drop in a few more 90s hits and this could be a fresh new take on the jukebox musical, with its dodgy managers, druggy roadies and despicable record company execs. The behind-the-scenes meetings with the bands of the day certainly add a fun frisson of gossip without revealing anything too salacious or inflammatory.

Read more: Cora Bissett  “I could see myself growing up”

That’s not to say that everything here is sweetness and light. One particular highlight is the heart-wrenching performance of Blur’s This is a Low, which puts Bissett’s considerable vocal abilities on full display. Growing up is hard, and elements of the female experience of adulthood are explored with intimacy and sensitivity once Bissett leaves Darlingheart behind.

Performed on stage with a full band, particular mentions should go to guitarist and bassist Simon Donaldson and Grant O’Rourke, who can not only rock out with the best of them, but who also play a succession of parts from the original band members to the aforementioned dodgy manager.

A relatively lighthearted romp that wears its Darlingheart on its sleeve, the standing ovation from the audience shows that this particular musical act could be destined to be the next big thing.

What Girls Are Made Of, Traverse, 7-26 Aug (not 13, 20), times vary

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