BWW Review: BELFAST GIRLS at Teater Tre
Opening night of Belfast Girls, 5th of November at Teater Tre, Stockholm
Belfast Girls by Jaki McCarrick is set in the 19th century. There is severe famine and high poverty in Ireland. From England, criminals were transported to Australia, but there were also ships from Ireland with poor people dreaming of a better future elsewhere. Promises and stories of work that awaited and rich men who wanted nothing more than to marry a girl from Ireland, made 4,000 girls and young women more or less voluntarily embarked on the long journey to the other side of the globe. The girls were called "orphan girls". This play tells the story of 5 of these girls, Sarah (Fanny Rosen), Molly (Siri Bengtén), Judith (Liv Björk Zehourou), Ellen (Tove Simonsen) and Hannah (Moa Åström) who end up in a corner of the big ship where the so-called Belfast Girls gather. Who are they? Why are they doing this trip? They all have some secret that they do not want to reveal, but of course it is not possible to keep something secret during such a long journey. Slowly we get to know the different women and follow how the group is formed and influenced by each other. How do you react when you are told that a person is someone other than the one you thought someone killed their own child or lied about something else big? How, then, do relationships change?
It is an interesting story and it feels very current with all the refugees around the world who are forced to flee or the situation is so badly in their home country that the only way out is to go on a long journey somewhere else to seek happiness without knowing if it really is so. To leave everything you have and not know what to expect, and the only thing you know is that you will not return home. And what happens when you realize during the course of the journey that it is not at all gold and green forests that wait but probably the same misery as what you left?
The story is interestingly told but the tempo could be a bit higher in the first act. The characters were a little flat and uninteresting at first but grew and became more and more interesting and the tension between the five girls increased and the triggering factor was when it emerged that Molly was not at all the one they had expected. And once they arrive in Australia and the play ends, you would like to know what happened to them in the new country.
One of my favorite series when I was a kid was "Against the Winds" and it was fun and interesting to get this angle on what happened on board one of the ships on the way to Australia. So, if you who liked Against the Wind, I can recommend this play.
It is played until November 22 and tickets can be purchased here: