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Bold Girls review at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick – ‘an uneven revival’

Alice Imelda and Sarah Kempton in Bold Girls at Theatre by the Lake. Photo: Robert Day

Theatre by the Lake’s studio usually offers audiences a contemporary work or a modern classic in contrast to the more mainstream main house fare. After the premiere of Simon Longman’s Rails the next offering for the summer repertory is a revival of Rona Munro’s 1991 play Bold Girls.

Munro’s play explores the lives of four Belfast women during the Troubles. It switches in register between naturalistic and more stylised scenes, and contains a number of monologues.

Designer Louie Whitemore has created an unfussy traverse sitting room/kitchen. Jon Nicholls’ sound design and composition and Tim Mascall’s lighting are both impressive, reflecting the impact of an offstage shooting and bombing. But there were some noticeable first night glitches, with a significant technical problem stopping the show early on.

Though Alice Imelda impresses as the vivacious Cassie, Christine Entwisle as her mother Nora, feels underpowered, her performance lacking depth by comparison. The intensity of Sarah Kempton as Marie, Cassie’s friend, is such that it makes for a lack of light and shade until her character’s crisis in the second half of the play.

As a result, the scenes between the three don’t always convince, and the highlights are the monologues. These are adroitly handled by the cast – also including an assuredly enigmatic Lydea Perkins – but the overall rhythm of Bobby Brook’s production doesn’t quite gel.

Rails review at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick – ‘poignant and poetic’

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Verdict
Uneven revival of Rona Munro’s play of female friendship
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