Poised on the edge of a defining moment in 1945, a community of young women in bomb-damaged London is living in extraordinary and momentous times.

They swap chocolates for ice cream, count calories, quarrel and reconcile and work on their poise. About sex and the availability of it, money and the lack of it, The Girls of Slender Means is as chilling as an Arctic winter, slashing the face of romantic relationships like flying glass.

‘Our Club world, like the crooked house Spark describes, is its own matter and anti-matter, so I see it as holes of darkness permeated with little pools of light, saved personal space detailed but sparse. It is also the circles of Dante’s Divine Comedy – hell in the furnace/fires below, heaven on the roof and purgatory in between, where everyone but Nick and Joanna temporize and compromise to survive’ (Judith Adams).

‘Penelope and I have both read and discussed this script, and we feel it is a very impressive work, technically ambitious and original. I can only send my very sincere good wishes for its success, now and in the future…’ (Dame Muriel Spark (1918 – 2006) in private letter to playwright Judith Adams, 2004)

The Girls of Slender Means, adapted for the stage by Judith Adams in a commission from Stellar Quines, is a celebration of Muriel Spark’s literary spirit and genius.  The play was nominated for Best Ensemble, Stage Awards for Acting Excellence 2009. The inspiration to stage The Girls of Slender Means was born out of the success of a 2003 Royal Lyceum Theatre production of Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, also directed by Muriel Romanes. Romanes said: ‘I wanted to revisit other Muriel Spark works to see if it was possible to recreate on stage the same theatrical and nostalgic impact of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie in a way that would thrill audiences with the unexpected. The Girls of Slender Means seemed to fit perfectly. In 1945 there was a sense of real austerity and life was a very different struggle from that which we experience today. People were larger than life, idealistic, brave and opinionated. There was no time to lose and so people thought, spoke and acted accordingly. We live in a world now that doesn’t cultivate eccentrics; we are the poorer for this.’

Reviews

‘this script… is a very impressive work, technically ambitious and original’ (Muriel Spark )
‘… masterly... the performances are faultless... savagely brilliant’ (Metro )
‘… a gallery of outstanding performances’ (Whatsonstage.com)

Production Tour Dates

  • 6 – 31 August, Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh

The Girls of Slender Means (2010)

The Girls of Slender Means was a co-produciton with Assembly Theatre, Edinburgh and played there during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2009.

Creative Team

  • Writer : Muriel Spark
  • Adapted by: Judith Adams
  • Director : Muriel Romanes
  • Set and Costume Design: Merle Hansel
  • Video Design : Finn Ross
  • Lighting Design: Natasha Chivers
  • Sound Design : Philip Pinsky
  • Choreography: Janice Parker

Cast

  • Romana Abercromby
  • Maureen Beattie
  • Candida Benson
  • Teresa Churcher
  • Melody Grove
  • Denise Hoey
  • Mary Keegan
  • Clare Lawrence Moody
  • Jamie Lee
  • Pauline Lockhart
  • Kevin McGonagle
  • Barnaby Power

Gallery

Images © Marc Marnie