Review by Greta Doell
The last of Liv Satchell’s trilogy of plays on grief and female connection, Let Bleeding Girls Lie is an unmissable work.
Having had the pleasure of seeing its first season at La Mama in 2021, upon hearing that Satchell’s trilogy was returning for another season at La Mama Courthouse, I knew instantly I needed to see it again. This is because it is a play that stayed with me the entire year after I saw it. Following three women, Lou, Grace, and Juice, donating plasma on the day of the 2017 terrorist attack at the Manchester Ariana Grande concert, Let Bleeding Girls Lie is a striking devised work. It explores the power of togetherness when female trauma is experienced both individually, and as a shared connection between women.
The audience journey with the characters in and out of the all-consuming feelings that arise as the three strangers at a blood bank talk to pass the time, and process the horrors they are seeing on the television screens in front of them.
Satchell’s writing is perfectly balanced, with nuanced characters and perfectly timed comedic direction. She touches on the experiences of her characters in such a subtle way at times, that you can tell the creative team devised this show with incredible dedication, putting their hearts and souls into the work. The truth of the show is astounding, and many other women who see it may share in my experience as a viewer, knowing all too well the events and feelings the show was exploring from just the simplest of references.
The talented cast of Belinda McClory, Chanella Macri and Emily Tomlins are a director’s dream. Their chemistry and unity on stage is clear from the first two minutes of the show, in which tiniest of gestures and blips on characters’ radars speak volumes. Their characters are all so different and nuanced, with their worldviews clashing at times, making it all the more moving when the cast beautifully communicated their moments of connection. The ebbs and flows of grief, anxiety and fear are laid bare, but they also provide fantastic comedic relief, these realistic waves of ostensibly dissonant emotions making it a harmoniously constructed work of theatre.
The design of the show compliments its intent wonderfully - uncovering the extremely visceral emotions and responses of these women, that can strike at any time. The sound design by Tom Backhaus kept us on the edges of our seats, shaking us to our core at points, and truly providing the perfect, constant underlying composition that iterated the survival instincts, the biology of the characters.
All aspects of the design, including props and lighting, exemplified the perfect allegory of the hospital that the characters are stuck in. Their responses are biological, yet learned. Always underneath the surface, ready to protect them at any moment, AND something they must ultimately live through. But they can do this together.
This moving exploration of both the physical and psychological aspects of the female experience makes Let Bleeding Girls Lie a masterpiece that more people need to see.
It was my favourite work of 2021 when I saw it, and having now seen it again, it’ll be hard to top it for the rest of 2023. If you want to see truly well-made theatre that will stay with you, hurry, tickets won’t last long.