Review: What Girls Are Made Of

Cora Bissett's fierce memoir revisits the '90s and the indie band which made her.

theatre review (edinburgh) | Read in About 2 minutes
Published 07 Aug 2018
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Cora Bissett

From her role in the hit romantic comedy Midsummer (playing at the Edinburgh International Festival this year with a new cast) to her direction of high-profile Scottish theatre works including Roadkill, Glasgow Girls and last year's Fringe hit Adam, Cora Bissett's success as a theatre-maker is well known.

For her latest work, however, Bissett has chosen to tackle her own life story. It’s an evocative and heartfelt piece which tells how a person—a woman, especially—might look back at their own mistakes, learn from them, accept them and come to terms with the fact that the good and bad in their lives are the building blocks of who they are now.

The performers are arranged in gig formation, Bissett out front and the trio of actors/musicians around her—Susan Bear, Simon Donaldson and Grant O’Rourke—playing guitars and drums. This is a nostalgic situation for Bissett. As a schoolgirl in the early ‘90s in Fife she joined a band after seeing an advert in the paper, and by the time she left education her group Darlingheart were signed to a major label and supporting Radiohead and Blur.

This is the story of those years, from the unbridled joy of a teenager rapidly fulfilling dreams, to the exploitation—financial and image-based—which she fell foul of. The linking threads are Bissett’s mother and her daughter, and how she might be worthy of both their expectations, in this fast-paced piece of life-affirming gig theatre.