Munro’s Merry Widows


Marie, the widowed protagonist of Rona Munro’s Bold Girls, refuses to succumb to bitterness. Though the “troubles” of Northern Ireland rage outside her Catholic door—a constant reminder of the violence that her husband, Michael, apparently fell victim to—she still has a ready smile and cup of tea for the neighborhood women who routinely drop by. A framed photograph of Michael gives her all the strength she needs. Nothing, it seems, can tarnish the sacred memory of her marriage—though a collusion of female forces will attempt to reveal the truth of Saint Michael’s philandering past.

The 29th Street Rep’s uneven production, directed by Ludovica Villar-Hauser, features an ensemble of actresses who, while not so adept at capturing the accents of Belfast, mix comfortably enough together. Susan Barrett brings an inexhaustible fund of maternal generosity to Marie, while Paula Ewin, the most Irish-seeming of the batch, deserves special praise for her dead-on portrait of Marie’s tough-loving friend Nora.The play tracks its characters’ camaraderie, which is born as much out of female frustration as political solidarity. But Munro’s overwritten drama binges on a profusion of soapy plotlines—all of which eventually intersect but at the expense of the play’s defiant power. These brave women may not need a man, but they could sure use an editor.