A avid lover of Lisa McGee’s Derry Girls I really was eagerly awaiting this debut play from Lisa, Girls and Dolls. Last night allowed me not only to be blown away by it, but to be totally submerged in the lives of these two childhood friends, Clare and Emma for those two hours.
Set in Derry in 1980, Girls and Dolls focuses on that summer when these two friends did meet at the swings. Jamie-Lee O’Donnell (Derry Girls) and Jennifer Barry (Young Offenders) undertook the roles of Clare and Emma alongside multiple other characters within this play. Admittedly I did love the two elderly sisters, and the girls played them brilliantly!
The troubles are ever present in this play but are never to the fore. It’s the troubles of the girls lives which is the primary focus and it really does draw you in from the very beginning. A darker side to life is hinted at throughout the play, but not until the very end do we really get that insight.
McGee has brought the real Derry, and indeed Irish humour, once more to the fore with this work and yet we are in the midst of a very dark and troubled life of that time. The girls recall the summer of 1980 and at times those memories are in disaccord. But at all times McGee allows us, the audience, to laugh out loud, then sit pensively contemplating life.
There’s a care-free element to this play, and there’s a very deep, dark element also. McGee succeeds in allowing some very serious, real issues to unfold, but at all times enables an audience to enjoy an outstanding piece of writing through exquisite humour.
I really was on the edge of my seat laughing last night. And almost immediately was trying to keep a silent tear at bay. Such was the emotional rollercoaster we were taken on.
Although set almost 40 years ago, the characters, games and regular references, really are timeless. Such is the craft of Lisa McGee.
Jamie-Lee and Jennifer were outstanding in their respective roles, and their ability to change character instantly only serves to show the ability and maturity of these two young actresses.
To say you will be brought on an emotional rollercoaster, nostalgic, memorable journey, is an understatement. This is also encouraging talk and discussion about a subject matter many feel frightened or unable to open up about. Girls and Dolls will provide an opportunity for that discussion and it will open channels for many. This is just the beginning of Girls and Dolls journey I’m certain. And if you’re lucky enough to grab a seat for tonight’s or tomorrow night’s performance, you really won’t regret it.
“Can best friends really last forever?” You really do question it by the end of this play.
“As long as it looks okay, it doesn’t matter if it’s broken.” It really is time to look beyond how one looks and help fix the broken.
Last night you would have heard a pin drop as the last scene of Girls and Dolls unfolded. And last night you would have heard thunderous applause as the final curtain came down. It’s a real mixture from beginning to end, and you just can’t help smiling and crying all at once.
It’s funny, very much so; it’s emotional, even more so; it’s a trip down memory lane, and it’s also a trip into the future for many. Girls and Dolls is the one play, you really don’t want to miss this week at Millenium Forum Derry.
Presented by Millennium Forum Productions and Sodabread Theatre Company, Girls and Dolls is written by Lisa McGee, directed by Gerard McCabe and produced by David McLaughlin.