Girlfriends is set on a Bomber Command air base in Norfolk, in the darkest days of World War II. The show is based on young women who have come from all corners of the UK, to do their bit and join Britain’s fight for survival against the Nazis.
This musical production by Howard Goodall (previewing three musicals at The Union this autumn) follows the loves and losses, fears and friendships, the laughter and the bravery of these women as they live through Word War II.
The immediate thing that strikes you upon entering the performance space is how intimate and close to the action you are. It’s a great space for smaller productions like Girlfriends and really allows the creative team to create poignant and touching moments that connect with the audience up close and personal.
I watched this show having a basic understanding of the plot but was pleasantly surprised by the emotion and subtleness of the piece. Where this production really excels is the ensemble numbers, both with the choreography and musicality. The big ensemble numbers were beautiful with spine tingling harmony’s filling this space exquisitely.
Choreographer Iona Holland has adopted a minimal yet impactful approach to utilising the space and portraying the story. We get a real sense of unity and purpose during ensemble numbers and this lent itself to a military theme promoting the solidarity and regimented manner of the military.
The First act ran slightly too long for my liking but when the interval did arrive I appreciated the continuity of the setting, through to the interval music being of that era and maintaining the ambience created on stage.
Notable performances come from Perry Lambert as Lou who was vocally strong and played the emotion of the character with grace and dignity. Also Corrine Priest as Amy brought passion and shade to her role. With both ladies vying for the same mans attention it makes for an interesting plot and the audience is keen to see this tale unfold and discover where true love will fall.
I thoroughly enjoyed Catriana Sandison’s fiery portrayal of Jas which had grit and strength. Catherine Mort had a particularly powerful and impressive voice and delivered a subtle and warming character in Jane. This has been well cast by Adam Braham with each character bringing something unique to the production.
On the anniversary of the centenary of World War I, this is a unique look at the female perspective of war. I enjoyed this show and it’s sense of pride in Britains history and heritage.
The Union Theatre has once again produced another show that I would recommend getting along to see.
Reviewed by Matthew Wren Andrew
Girlfriends is playing at The Union Theatre from 29 October – 22 November 2014