Review: What Girls Are Made Of, Assembly Main Hall, Edinburgh Fringe
4.0stars

What Girls Are Made Of is so fucking cool. To the tune of a live band, Cora Bissett recounts the rollercoaster that is her professional and personal life. At just 17, this 90’s indie kid and lead singer of Darlingheart became a rock sensation almost overnight – securing one of the biggest record deals in the history of Scottish music. 

Inspired by the diaries that Bissett kept from the ages of 11-35, the production stages the highs and lows of her career. Told as if through the lens of a concept album, her ascent is akin to every musician’s fantasy. Stories of her formative years dance to The Pixies, Nirvana and her idol, Patti Smith. It’s a time of anarchy, androgyny, punk and later, Britpop. 


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Born to an Irish family, her world is rooted in Fife until she rides out into the world, saddled with success. The bass blasts through your chest, a sea of heads nodding in time to Cathryn’s (played by Susan Bear) red-hot drumming. Arms emblazoned with tattoos, Bear is effortlessly edgy. An original member of Darlingheart, she compliments Simon Donaldson and Harry Ward on electric guitars like a match to a stick of dynamite.

A technical difficulty early on is swallowed by the Rock n’ Roll attitude of the group. The show goes on, the promise of a £90,000 album deal drenched in fluorescent lights. But, somewhere in the 40-page contract, a pressure to sign on the dotted line supersedes an appetite for the small print; what goes up must come down. A bad review in the NME soon sees the almighty hangovers once shared with The Sultans, Blur and Radiohead give way to serious debt.

Here, the delicacy of dreams and the uncertainty of the future are made real. What Girls Are Made Of is – like its subject – one of kind. Riddled with comedy and epic sadness, this production caters to anyone and everyone. It’s for the youth headbanging in their garage. For those who have ever lost a parent – for those who wish to become a parent. For anyone who has ever made a mistake, or who has been taken advantage of. It is an event to satisfy curious minds. For those brave enough to know what it is that makes us human.

What Girls Are Made Of is playing the Assembly Main Hall until 25 August, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, see the Edinburgh Fringe website.