Review: ★★★★ What Girls Are Made Of, Soho Theatre

Raw Material and Traverse Theatre Company have taken the world by storm with their tour of What Girls Are Made Of, in association with Scottish music promoter, Regular Music. Travelling from Sau Paulo, Brazil to the Spoleto Festival USA, they now make their mark on Soho Theatre in London.

What Girls Are Made of is a gig with a compelling story, told by our heroine, Cora Bissett. Based on her teenage diaries, we follow her through the highs and lows of her 90’s Brit pop music career as the lead singer of ‘Darling Heart’. Bisset is engaging, and her voice is raw and startlingly beautiful. The band members are incredible musicians, but also play into her story, multi-rolling  various characters, from her parents, to the bitchy girls at school. There’s something quite charming about seeing an adult man with a thick Scottish accent multi-rolling as a sassy teenage girl, and Harry Ward does an impeccable job. Meanwhile, Simon Donaldson must be praised for his impression of Alex James from Blur – it’s spot on.

As the story progresses, young Cora soon realises her naivety to the fickle nature of the music business. We see her failures, and feel compelled to cheer her on to succeed. Tonal changes are dealt with seamlessly, as she explores deep shame at her failings, grief, and at times – pure elation, with her relationship with her father perhaps the most touching of all.

The music brings a wave of 90’s nostalgia to the story, and injects energy into the play. However, the narrative could be a bit tighter to avoid lulls – an hour long running time instead of an hour and a half would suffice.

Having said that, this play is a truly glorious celebration of everything that makes a girl – from tyre swings, to teenage strops, singing your heart out and broken arms, Bissett delights the audience in her joyful jubilation of all the highs and lows of being a woman. And frankly, it’s delicious.


Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy
Tess Kennedy

Tess Kennedy moved to London to be closer to her first love: theatre. It’s just a coincidence that she’s also now much closer to her second love, Idris Elba. During the week, Tess is a Social Media Manager, but in her spare time she enjoys reading, singing, yoga, pina coladas — although she can take or leave getting caught in the rain. Tess has been writing for Upper Circle since January 2019, where she’s seen more Fringe than Jonathan Van Ness, as well as plenty of one-woman-shows and musicals. Although she’s a big fan of the musical genre, Tess draws the line at Cats. That’s not because she’s a dog person though – Tess loves her family cats more than most humans – it’s because the visual of Idris Elba meowing in a skintight leotard gave her paws for thought.


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