Review by Stephanie Lee
Let Bleeding Girls Lie was funny, deeply touching and at times heartbreaking. It beautifully highlights the power of care and connection in difficult times.
Set in a hospital, the play follows the story of three strangers, Lou, Juice and Grace, as they become unlikely companions while donating plasma. Things are going pretty normally until news of bombs going off in Manchester Arena full of mainly young girls hits the news, causing the women to open up to each other with personal stories.
This intimate, touching story is driven by the dialogue as the characters’ awkward interactions are what keep the audience engaged. Performances by Belinda McClory, Chanella Macri and Emily Tomlins are honestly outstanding. They all invite the audience to share in their characters’ strange intimacy and connection, managing the seriousness and comedy of the text with complete care.
While the text is the focus of the work, James Lew’s simple, yet incredibly effective set and costume assist the audience to quickly situate the characters and their environment. The stark white of the three hospital chairs and the giant bowls of mentos placed on each table allows for the set to not overwhelm and detract from the story, and instead works to build the aesthetic world.
Similarly, composer Hannah McKittrick and sound designer Tom Backhaus cleverly underscored the performance with minimal noise clearly locating the action within a hospital, as you could hear faint beeping and chatter. The sound also works to nicely punctuate the major shifting moment, shaking the audience up in the same way that the characters are. A highlight of the sound design is the subtle, almost unsettling humming of Hallelujah which sits underneath the dialogue. However, one of the most powerful moments in the show has to be Hannah McKittrick’s acoustic rendition of the entire song, which is highly affective and moving, bringing the performance together through music.
Although there is no doubt the dialogue is incredibly funny, for me the most memorable moments were the sincere encounters between characters. It is a true testament to Olivia Satchell’s writing and Macri, McClory and Tomlin’s acting that the balance between the poignant and comedic is managed so carefully. One notable moment is when Lou forces Juice to save her as a contact in her phone so that she can call her next time she decides to take a swim alone at night without telling anyone. The genuineness of those small moments gives the audience a sense of hope that maybe kindness can bond people, even in the unlikeliest of situations.
The only thing majorly missing from this show was a warning about the sudden noises, as there were a couple of points that there were loud noises that came with almost no warning. However, the invitation to sit in the space at the end for as long as needed was a pleasant care of the audience and acknowledgement of the intense themes of the performance.
If you have not booked in to go and see Let Bleeding Girls Lie, you definitely should. It is truly a transportive and touching work that is not one to let go by!