Ticketmaster Summer in Stages

Bold Girls

Rona Munro
Theatre by the Lake, Keswick

Alice Imelda (Cassie), Sarah Kempton (Marie) and Christine Entwisle (Nora) in Bold Girls Credit: Robert Day

Another Rona Munro play revival fits neatly into the Lakeland venue’s always-eclectic, and uniquely-prolonged, summer season.

Two years ago, it was Iron that was a highly-effective production in the venue’s intimate 100-seater studio space.

Bold Girls loudly announced Munro’s arrival as an award-winning writer back in the '90s. The setting, amid Ulster’s Troubles, evidently dates it, but the essentially domestic drama, wrapped around the resilience of womankind, could hardly make it more contemporary.

Marie, Nora and Cassie are neighbours in the battle-scarred streets of Belfast. The sounds of helicopters, bombs, bullets and sirens punctuate their everyday conversation. Their menfolk have either been murdered or imprisoned but they boldly persevere with bringing up kids or enjoying the occasional night out. Aspirations here range from getting the hell out of the city, to getting the suite covered.

Their chat is fast, funny, sometimes furious, and when acted out in a traverse-style staging can leave audience heads swinging left and right like a Wimbledon crowd.

The arrival of a fourth, wraith-like female creates a new dynamic, forcing one of the women to re-examine the legend she has created like a comfort blanket around her late husband’s memory.

It’s a play in which Munro adeptly lets her characters step out of conversation and into internal monologues, without missing a heartbeat of authenticity.

Sarah Kempton, Christine Entwistle, Alice Imelda and Lydea Perkins, as the four combatants, would have you believe they were born in Belfast but perhaps full credit is due to dialect coach Charmian Hoare?

Director Bobby Brook is equally well served by sound, lighting and design in an intriguing and engrossing performance of a stand-out play.

Reviewer: David Upton