REVIEW: Bold Girls deliver gutsy performance

Emma Sterry, Lauren Gilbert and Alison Hill in ‘Bold Girls’ Progress Theatre

Laugh, gasp and be challenged as Bold Girls bring Belfast troubles to life at the Progress Theatre.

No-one who knew of the troubles in Northern Ireland during the past few decades could ever set  the scene for a theatre play, and yet Rona Munro’s “Bold Girls” does just that. It provides a canvas on which the stories of four women living amidst those troubles eke out a daily life, and paints a picture which is a complete contrast to the images beamed into many a household living room via news bulletins during those times.

Marie (Emma Sterry) plays a young and in some circumstances naïve character, a mother of two boys Brendan and Nicky, widowed and with a somewhat fatalistic approach to the life which she now lives, making do with the hand of cards life has dealt her. Alison Hill shines as the skittish neighbour Nora, one of the older generation of house-proud women whose focus in life was one of fastidious cleanliness combined with a penchant for soft furnishings. Nora was a widow too, and a friend of Marie. Lauren Gilbert plays the role of Cassie, Nora’s daughter; with a coarse tongue and a lightning-quick wit, there’s more to Cassie than meets the eye as is revealed further in the play. As a complete opposite to Marie, Cassie dreams of escaping Belfast, its troubles, its dark secrets and her husband Joe, due out of prison anytime soon.

Deirdre, played by youngest cast member Libby Boyd adds an ingredient of mystery during the performance and the mood and tone of the scene definitely shifts when her character begins to emerge and develop.

The performance was completely engaging from start to finish. One is left definitely wondering how life changes for the characters long after the end of the final scene.

Bold Girls is a wonderful fusion of the delicious script-work of Rona Munro, teamed with the superb casting and direction of Aidan Moran, which results in a captivating performance which will have you holding your breath one moment and laughing raucously with the characters the next.

Punctuated with attention grabbing monologues, perfected in a Belfast lilt which is so difficult to command with such aplomb, Bold Girls is a heroic tale of tenacity, grit, stoicism and dogged perseverance of their lives on a daily level – to the extent that you immerse yourself completely and feel you’re viewing a slice of their reality in the flesh – and you’ll be left wanting more.

Bold Girls runs at the Progress Theatre, The Mount, Reading from February 17 to 22. Tickets are £10 with £8 for concessions and can be bought from Reading Arts (, by telephone 0118 960 6060, or in person at the Hexagon or Town Hall. Group discounts are available.

Last modified on Saturday, 15 March 2014 18:08