What Girls Are Made Of
Production Photo: Sid Scott

Cora Bissett knew what she was doing. Or thought she did. Back in the early 1990s she built, breathed, lived and loved dreams, touring with Blur, Radiohead and The Cranberries. Dreams that lingered until one bad review began to bring them crashing down...

A captivating, hyperactive piece of "gig theatre", with more than enough live music to accompany its dialogue, What Girls Are Made Of, directed by Orla O'Loughlin, is a true story crackling with warm familiarity, electric energy and very effective bursts of poignancy and reality. Playing herself, Bissett, a note perfect dynamo of excitement and fragility, transforms her own teenage diaries for our edification and entertainment in a twisted but also rather terrific mirror to a much dreamed about spotlight.

As often as one reaches for the highs, how well prepared is he or she, really, for the lows? Especially when, or if, they discover that maybe they flew too high, too soon – and it might not even have been of their own accord. Think stardom by happenstance rather than aspiration, and how it can transform you, not always for the better, in front of your family and friends.

That's part of what you get on stage here, as well as lots of music. Good music. And Bissett is marvellously accompanied by Susan Bear, Harry Ward and Simon Donaldson, with both men multi-roleplaying across genders, professions and ages of all sorts. Donaldson's channelling of Ewen Bremner is a highlight.

What Girls Are Made Of is a fine thing, indeed. It's the School Of Hard Knocks from the School Of Rock, a gritty alternative to sugar, spice and all things nice. For it can't really be any other way if you want to survive, at least not in this world. The show deserves a large audience.

Simon Fallaha

A Raw Material & Traverse Theatre Company co-production, What Girls Are Made Of runs at The MAC, Belfast, until Sunday May 5, as part of a 2019 World Tour. For tickets, click here. For more information about the show itself, click here