Choose a play in which a main character faces a problem. Say what the problem is and then go on to show whether you think the character was successful in dealing with the problem in the rest of the play.

In Rona Munro’s play ‘Bold Girls’ a central character with a problem is a Belfast housewife and widow called Marie. As she struggles with daily life in a Catholic area of West Belfast during the upheaval of the ‘Troubles’ it is apparent that notwithstanding the problems faced by all the residents, Marie has a set of problems that are all her own.

As a young (about 36) widow with two small children, the daily grind of the streets is exacerbated with the knowledge that she cannot leave. With a dead husband claimed as a ‘war hero’ by the IRA and the local population, Marie has a reputation to live up to even if she does have suspicions that her hero husband was not really worthy of his heroic or iconic ‘martyr’ status. As a result she has to behave with decorum and cannot form a new relationship as it would be frowned upon by the community. Her suppressed sexuality could be seen by the symbolic ‘red kitten’ knickers she wears. Hidden away her desires and physical needs have to be suppressed as she will suffer ignominy in a closed and bigoted community. Additionally as the widow of a known IRA ‘foot soldier’ she is of intelligence interest to the British Army and the Police. Thus she regularly suffers harassment from the security forces and gossip from her own community. If she tries to be polite to the soldiers she would anger her neighbours who will think she is a potential collaborator or ‘snout’. If she fights back actively she will suffer harsher harassment and damage to her home from the security forces.

Thus we can see Marie as being caught in a ‘no-win’ situation. As a result she has only one major escape device; she feeds birds and dreams of being able one day to be as free as them and to fly away. Reality brings her back down to Earth as her own life and the reputation she has to maintain intrude on her dreaming.
The problem of being caught like this is intensified when, by the end of the play, she is faced with another reality. That the ‘war hero and good husband’ is in fact neither heroic nor a good husband. Her dreams are shattered yet she is unable to do much, if anything about her problem. If she leaves she will have to stay hidden from the vengeance of IRA ‘death squads’ desperate to ensure the myths of the IRA fighting a war against foreign invaders is maintained. But this pales into insignificance with the bigger and more personal aspects of Marie’s problem. Her husband ‘who had the lying head taken off him’ is confirmed as being unfaithful. His infidelity not only extends ot her best friend, Cassie who had sex with him in his car wearing a red dress she later gave to Marie, but physical proof in the form of Deidre who arrives in Marie’s life claiming to be Michael’s daughter by another woman.

Confronted by her suspicions being so vividly confirmed, Marie can do little but retreat into her dreams and try to escape the sordid truths that now entrap her even further than before. At the end of the play Marie is back feeding the birds and dreaming again, but we also get a sense that things HAVE changed and that she will have to change also.

605 words in 45 minutes