Written by and starring Cora Bissett, What Girls Are Made Of tells the true story of her tumultuous music career from mid-teens to motherhood. An award-winning musical production, it captures the true essence of Scotland and the British music scene in the 90s. Sporting a Pixies rock band tee and big hooped earrings, Bissett takes centre stage playing the lead singer of her band Darlingheart, which began in Fife while she was still at school, alongside drummer Cathryn Stirling.
Throughout the production, Bissett and Stirling, as well as Harry Ward and Simon Donaldson, perform live music including covers well-known of 90s hits. In the storytelling segments, they all personify a plethora of different characters who come into contact with the band on their road to stardom – and their sudden plunge to nothingness following a scathing album review. Mastering an array of different British accents, they move dexterously across the stage and between characters. With a natural flare for body language, they switch with ease between the likes of arrogant music producers and sickly fathers, touching on themes of family, relationships, motherhood and sexism in the industry.
What starts off as fairly light-hearted and comedic portrayal of the musician’s dreams and accomplishments slowly takes a darker route as the audience encounter her sexualisation as a 17 year old at the hands of influential industry men. The four performers are captivating in a piece of theatre that truly transports you to the zeitgeist of the 90s, a time in which music was far from what it is today, but the industry’s treatment of women strikingly similar. Talk of virginity-turned-damaged goods and subtle manipulation of naivety are still topics of debate today, and very real experiences for many women 20 years later.
The show’s end addresses the question of what girls are actually made of in a final song as Bissett reflects on her youth, bringing the show full circle, yet perhaps lacking a certain sense of finality or the climax which the show built up to so fiercely. Nonetheless, Bissett is undoubtedly a talented story-teller, translating her own experience most powerfully through a carefully crafted setlist of goosebump-inducing music.
What Girls Are Made Of is on at Assembly Hall – Main Hall
At 2:30 until 25th August
Book tickets here
Image: Mihaela Bodlovic