What Girls Are Made Of (4 stars)

This article is from 2018

What Girls Are Made Of

credit: Sid Scott

A kick up the 90s music scene and beyond

Cora Bissett's autobiographical production, lovingly directed by Orla O'Loughlin, is like a superior cover of a song that never really registered before – it may follow a conventional route, but it dazzles with its energy and heart. And her version of Blur's 'This Is A Low' is actually better.

The tale is familiar: young, idealistic girl with talent from small town is promised recording contract; tours a bit with her band Darlingheart (massive slots supporting Blur and Radiohead) and won't play ball when asked to go solo and exploit herself, plus a dodgy manager who vanishes.

If this sounds unremittingly grim, Bissett's script, showing Britpop from a Scottish perspective, is riotous, joyful and life-affirming. She's an engaging and warm performer, the kind of big sister we all wished for – articulate and impish, rocking PJ Harvey's 'Dress' in a vintage dress.

The show will resonate with the John Peel generation, those who spent hours in record shops and book stores. Her 'band' and co-stars – Susan Bear, Grant O' Rourke and Simon Donaldson – also impress, swapping roles as various sleazy industry types and deadpan friends.

Based on her teenage diaries, all of which she rediscovered and read as her father was ill, this is never an overshare. It's as red and raw as a teenage love bite, but with the insight of an adult who is as passionate about her art now, decades later, as when she first gazed upon Patti Smith's uncompromising stare on the cover of Horses.

Traverse, until 26 Aug (not 13, 20) times vary, £20.50 (£15.50).

What Girls Are Made Of

  • 4 stars

Based on her teenage diaries, Cora Bissett traces the highs and lows of her musical career, beginning with her origins as a schoolgirl in Glenrothes to her time as the lead singer of indie-rock outfit Darlingheart. Winner of the 2018 Scotsman Fringe First Award.