Girls Night features Carol and sister Kate, Liza and Anita - childhood friends on a night out, clubbing. They’re waiting to be joined by Candy-Rose, daughter of their friend Sharon who died shortly after Candy-Rose’s birth. Tales from their teenage years alternate with their adult lives and problems, all interspersed with a large helping of karaoke classics.
The characters are very thinly drawn – with little for most of the performers to do. Rebecca Wheatley (Anita) and Kerry Enright (Liza) get most of the laughs and also have the most impressive vocals. Gillian Taylforth (Carol) is a likeable presence and Carol is probably one of the more intriguing characters, but her limited vocal ability is sorely tested with "Don’t Cry Out Loud." Highlights of the show, nevertheless, are undoubtedly the musical numbers – with singalong favourites including "I Will Survive", "Dancing Queen", "I’m Every Woman" and "We Are Family."
The plot is almost laughably lacking. Sharon (a lively performance from Lizzie Frances) is ever-present, though unseen by the others, as a ghost-cum-guardian-angel. There are some funny lines – the audience responds best to the filthiest and darkest humour - but the production would benefit from more of these moments. That said, the audience enjoys the music, and there is laughter nearly throughout.
Various ‘issues’ – mental health, abortion, grief, divorce, teen pregnancy - are touched upon by writer Louise Roche but are so superficially dealt with as to barely be worth the storyline. And, frustratingly, the audience hardly gets under the skin of any of the characters.
Since 2003, Girls Night has enjoyed four national tours, and there are currently productions in New York and Chicago too. Its ongoing success proves that there is clearly an audience for ths show. But to me it simply feels like one big, cynical marketing exercise which serves as an excuse to shoe-horn well known songs into a non existent narrative.