Review: Girls in Their Married Bliss

A selection of excerpts from the final book in Edna O’Brien’s acclaimed trilogy, The Country Girls.

Childhood friends Kate and Baba have long since left their rural lives and are now in 1960s London, via Dublin. Hoping for happiness or something close to it, they endeavour to find love and a meal or two along the way. Kate (Katie O’Kelly) leads with her heart, as usual, while practical Baba (Madi O’Carroll) is more concerned with keeping her head above water. Their pursuits lead to unexpected outcomes and difficulties that test both them and their friendship.

Girls in Their Married Bliss continues the themes of O’Brien’s earlier Girls books, namely the complexities of friendship, womanhood, and sexuality. The last in the trilogy, this darker story gives more insight into Baba and her perspective, with the preceding books focussing more on Kate.

Curated by Jane McCarthy and directed by Deirdre Molloy, the selected excerpts give a well-rounded overview of O’Brien’s mordant writing. While it can be easy to get lost in the vivid and visceral words, there is a solid cohesiveness that offers much enjoyment for fans of O’Brien and those new to her work. O’Kelly and O’Carroll read marvellously, ably portraying a selection of other characters as the story unfolds.

At just under one hour this is a delightful yet poignant reading that ticks a lot of cultural boxes in a very brief time. While stirring and humorous throughout, it is the harsh reality behind the beautiful words that is most striking. The essence of Girls in Their Married Bliss is distilled through the chosen excerpts and delivered with fervent talent and care.

Presented by Dublin UNESCO City of Literature and the New Theatre as part of Dublin City Council’s Dublin: One City One Book, Girls in Their Married Bliss runs at The New Theatre until April 27th.


24th April – 27th April @ 7:30pm (+ Matinee @ 2:30pm on Sat 27th)
Tickets: €8 / 6 (conc)
Show Length: 50 minutes

Writer: Edna O’Brien
Director: Deirdre Molloy
Curator: Jane McCarthy

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Katie O’ Kelly and Madi O’ Carroll

Images: The New Theatre

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