Theatre

Bold Girls

Citizens Theatre, Glasgow

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Neil Cooper

Four stars

The photographic portrait on the wall of Marie’s living room presents its smiling male subject as a picture of innocence in this revival of Rona Munro’s 1990 Belfast-set play. As the already fragile veneer of domestic calm comes crashing down once Marie’s Saturday night with the girls takes a volatile turn, it proves to be anything but.

The catalyst for this is the arrival of a teenage girl dressed in white who lands on Marie’s doorstep after making poetic reveries in the rain while bathed in the British army searchlight from the helicopter overhead. This is Deirdre, who cuckoos her way into the fold as Marie, her pal Cassie and Cassie’s mum Nora keep up the tragi-comic pretence that everything’s okay.

This is despite living in the occupied warzone of the Northern Irish Troubles, with assorted men-folk either incarcerated in Long Kesh, or, in the case of Michael, the man in the photograph and Marie’s husband, dead. All four women look to different ways of surviving the crossfire they’re caught in, grabbing after simple pleasures and pretending everything’s alright.

Richard Baron’s stately production navigates its way through the everyday mundanity of the women’s lives on Neil Haynes’ vividly observed living room set with an easy naturalism broken at points by out-front monologues from each of the women. At its heart are a quartet of beautifully realised performances from Deirdre Davis as Nora, Scarlett Mack as Cassie, Sinead Sharkey as Deirdre and Lucianne McEvoy’s heart-rending turn as Marie. With the women pushed to extremes, there are no sentimental displays of solidarity here, only a quiet desperation and a steely will to survive. When Sunday morning comes, Marie, Deirdre and the others may still only have crumbs of a life, but they’ll get by as they always have.