Theatre review - The Thunder Girls, The Lowry Salford

Sandra Marvin and Beverley Callard in The Thunder Girls at the Lowry in Salford

Sandra Marvin and Beverley Callard in The Thunder Girls at the Lowry in Salford - Credit: Archant

It’s reigning women in this brand new play about four females confronted with maybe getting their 80s’ girl band back together.

The Thunder Girls have the usual 'artistic differences' that seem to confront pop foursomes - three of them hate one of them! All of which leads to tempestuous scenes as the negotiate their planned reunion.

It's written by Melanie Blake, a former Salford woman with a career in music management, and is based on her book of the same name. Every audience member gets a signed copy. Director Joyce Branagh marshalls a largely soap star cast of Carol Harrison, Beverley Callard, Sandra Marvin and Coleen Nolan.

They, and a highly-effective publicity campaign, have ensured a sold-out run for its world premiere preview here.

And once 20 minutes have been trimmed from the first act, and one or two cast members relax into their respective roles, The Thunder Girls might just be struck with the equivalent of theatrical lightning.

The story goes in interesting if predictable directions, and Richard Foxton's set design lends an authentic background.

At the moment, however, it's more preview than premiere class, over-anxious to please its audience, and unable to convincingly negotiate its way around being a comedy/drama/musical.

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The first act spends so long establishing background story, character and motivation that at the moment of Coleen Nolan's arrival as long-lost Anita, she's greeted like the Loose Women royalty she is . . .

The laughs come in that same Loose style; around the ageing process, its physical manifestations, and coping with modern life. The drama is in fits and starts. And the four or five songs suit the storyline but sit awkwardly amidst the stage action.

The Thunder Girls are performing the theatrical equivalent of an EP that could do with switching up to 45rpm.