Hull – It’s Different for Girls

I’ve made the trip over to Beverley near Hull, to the wonderful East Riding Theatre.  Hull is UK City of Culture and I promised myself I’d make the trip this year – there’s a lot going on and it’s a city well worth getting to know again.  Also, two of Manchester’s talented actors – Abey Bradbury and Sophie Coward – are in the line up.

It’s Different for Girls tells the story of a five piece all-girl band in the mid-sixties.  It’s based on the true story of a Hull band, Mandy and the Girlfriends.  Touring first around local working men’s clubs and then to US military camps in Germany, the play charts the excitement, internal conflict and stereotypes of the groundbreaking band.  Structured around both original songs and covers, with many of the scenes set during rehearsals or performances, the narrative is told through both theatre and rewritten song lyrics, very much a story told through song rather than a musical.

This is a fascinating and engaging play with real local relevance.  Capturing the ambition and excitement of the band as well as their exploitation by those around them and those for whom they play, the cast present a finely balanced production with well defined characters and great chemistry.  On the one hand, the band have the drive and ambition to create their own future.  On the other, they struggle to balance this against rigid sixties stereotypes around how they should behave, and how much control they should have over their own lives and bodies.

Behind the ‘pop’ premise there are serious issues to consider.  In the end we’re left with the question of how much has changed today?  In some ways everything has changed, but then again too much hasn’t. A well formed and presented play that is both highly entertaining and thought provoking.

East Riding Theatre, Beverley, 6-23 Sept 2017.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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