The Girl's Guide To Saving The World Rehearsal Photo: Gerard McCabe
"You'll be alright." "Don't worry, I know."
From two female characters promising something "articulate", "angry" and "scathing", the release of a pent-up torrent of rage to challenge incomplete perceptions of feminine ideals and masculine control, The Girl's Guide To Saving The World, penned by Elinor Cook, produced by Soda Bread Theatre Company and directed by Gerard McCabe, is a confident, concise exercise in multiple messages and moods. There is something extraordinary about the opportunity for imagination presented in the small corner of Belfast's American Bar, where life, sound and minimal props aid us in the picturing of nightclubs, kitchens and train tracks.
Rebecca Ormrod, in her Northern Ireland debut, is impossible to look away from. Every inch the delusional dreamer, her aptly-named Bella fancies herself as the blushing beauty to conquer all the beasts in her heart and on the dance floor. The not-so-plain Jane (the radiant and fragile Siobhan Kelly) is her counterpoint and the pivot of the play, partner to Jake Douglas's Toby and a cat lover whose pet seems to shower her with more affection than her boyfriend. Said boyfriend is one of three roles Clark Kent-ed nicely by Douglas, vocal pitch and facial contortion doing wonders to differentiate domesticated, lotharian and outright creepy personas.
With so much to take in, it's no surprise that a "guide to save the world" is required. But whose world needs to be saved? Need patriarchal planning crumble for growth? Must we always keep up appearances? Has over-analysis in our society made it much harder to bond and enjoy ourselves? Perhaps all it takes to "save (a) world", for love and respect to be mutual, is the understanding of contemporary realities and individual needs that every character in the play fights to grasp. That makes The Girl's Guide To Saving The World a strong take on low, medium and high fidelity where no tantalising fantasy is strong enough to counter the desire for warmth and security at our cores.
The Girl's Guide To Saving The World ran at The American Bar, Belfast, on May 9th and 10th, and at the Strand Arts Centre, Belfast on May 11th.