What Girls Are Made Of

Scruffy indie kids have inherited the world and Cora Bissett rules supreme.

Scruffy indie kids have inherited the world and Cora Bissett rules supreme.

Cora Bissett was seventeen and at school when her teenage band, Darlingheart, secured one of the biggest record deals in Scottish music history and shot to fame. Her star flew fast and fell rapidly, but when Darlingheart were soaring through tours with Radiohead and Blur, rushing from school concerts to big-shot record companies, they were on top of the world.

And on top of the world is how I felt from start to finish. Bissett's performance as herself is raw and honest; she has the audience in the palm of her hand and never let's go. We ride her life-affirming wave of punk rock, Patti Smith inspired dreams.

As I sat down in Assembly Hall, the woman next to me remarked how we were both behind the times, this was, after all, the big show last year at The Traverse. But Bissett's script and songs know no limits. They whisk us away from the gargantuan home of the Church of Scotland and transport us straight to the garage in Fife where Darlingheart were rehearsing. In its new staging, What Girls Are Made Of retains its intimacy and amps up its gig theatre spectacle with awe-inspiring effect.

Bissett and her band, made up of Simon Donaldson, Harry Ward and, when I saw it, the original Cathryn Stirling, ignite the stage, shining brighter than the neon borders that frame them. Donaldson and Ward pull us in with endearing performances as an array of characters from their Fife hometown and the music industry which they found themselves navigating. Seeing the original drummer, Stirling, perform with Bissett was an added treat, she is a firey wonder to behold. Songs from Blur, Patti Smith, and Darlingheart themselves burst with life; this is the ideal story for gig theatre.

The spectacle of the music powers the show, but the simple story of a daughter, turned star, turned mother that gives it heart. Bissett sits with a box of memories saved by her parents from her days in the spotlight. She triggers in us a recognition of our hopes and dreams and of our families. The beautifully timed and emotionally tender moments pepper a pitch-perfect script.

I rang my Mum after What Girls Are Made Of, reminded of where I come from and of my dreams. My face was wet with tears, but I was grinning from ear to ear. Bissett confirms in her audience who we are and what we can achieve, but more importantly, she reminds us of our inner strength, of what we’re made of.

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Since you’re here…

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Performances

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The Blurb

Based on her own diaries, the true story of Cora Bissett's rollercoaster journey from 90s indie-kid hopeful to wised-up woman. Touring with Radiohead, partying with Blur; she was living the dream. Until she wasn't... Performing with a live band, Cora celebrates life's euphoric highs and epic lows, asking what wisdom we should pass to the next generation and which glorious mistakes we should let them make. 2018 Fringe smash, directed by Orla O'Loughlin. 'A life-changing litany of pure joy' ***** (Herald). 'Punchy, exhilarating, candid and emotionally raw' ***** (Skinny). 'Well-deserved standing ovation' ***** (BroadwayWorld.com).

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