Posts Tagged ‘suffragettes’


Mother, A La Carte

Two scintillating theatrical pieces were served up in Edinburgh to celebrate the centenary of International Women’s Day.

One homely and intimate, set in the cosy Word of Mouth Cafe. One political, rousing and set in the grand Lyceum Theatre.

Mother, A La Carte‘ is a delightful one-woman show beautifully set in a tiny café off Leith Walk. A woman bakes bread, brews a pot of tea and contemplates being a woman.

Simple, emotional and stunningly powerful.

Liberty Des Roches-Dueck, the writer and performer, serves up lashings of “stewed spears of shame and a bittersweet pudding of regret and apprehension.”

She wraps herself up in clingfilm to keep her marriage exciting, wails about her mother’s constant injunction for perfection and yearns for the wild joy in her life – a bit of madness with reason.

There are cracking lines such as: “My cup runneth over but it’s leaving a stain on the carpet”, “My mother is like the process of tea: once time-consuming and fussy, now ritualistic and refreshing” and “My boobs melt like ice cream under my armpits into the mattress.”

The audience helps pass props from around the cafe, the counter becomes an earthy kitchen worktop and a surprising amount of eyes are dried at the final applause.

The audience reaction after the show was fulsome: “I called my Mum. It had been ages since we had a proper chat”, “I cried all the way home. That was good though, I really needed a good cry” and “I went to buy a tea pot. I’d forgotten how much I like making a proper cup of tea.”

All in all, a heart-warming offering from the exciting new ‘theatre of the oppressed’-inspired theatre company Strange Theatre.

Next performance is on Mother’s Day, funnily enough.

Cat And Mouse

Cat and Mouse‘ by Ajay Close was a rehearsed reading for an audience of women with a couple of token, but I’m sure very welcome, blokes.

The abridged reading follows the true story of Scotland’s suffragettes on hunger and thirst strike in Perth Prison. But not so closely that it loses dramatic impact.

Instead, it concentrates on the power-play relationship between strident, upper-class lady prisoner, Arabella Scott and the brutal, jumped-up working class Dr Ferguson Watson in charge of force-feeding.

Although still a work in progress, the quiet contempt of Phil McKee‘s doctor was chilling. The casual nature of torturers convinced they are treating the underclass was convincingly drawn throughout the 50 minute performance.

It was also refreshing to see women as terrorists on a main stage.  Albeit upper-class ones in the main.

Disappointingly in women’s history, working class women did not get the vote until 1928 and there were few terrorists involved in that struggle.

But that story, perhaps, is for another day.

You can re-read this article on STV Edinburgh here, if yer that way inclined.

© Fin Wycherley

Stop The Press

Due to incredible demand, Mother A La Carte will also be performed on Monday 4th, Tuesday 5th and Wednesday 6th April at 7pm.  Tickets: £6 / £5 (conc.)  available from at Word of Mouth Café 0131 554 4344  www.wofmcafe.com.

Running time 45 minutes and not suitable for children.

The café will open at 6pm. The kitchen has to close for the performance so last orders will be taken at 6.30pm. Please arrive early.

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With social and political movements arising across the Middle East, and International Women’s Day looming, The Age of Arousal is a very timely production about the early feminist revolution at Edinburgh’s Lyceum Theatre.

A brilliant cast with some cracking laugh-out-loud lines, had the full house tickled by the bristling wit and political humour of the play.

“I want to run from the stink of lavender, sweat and … something with yeast.”

“I foresee the day when we can weep for a kitten and oversee transactions worth millions.”

“I am half lady, half shop girl.”

And blithely, “We want passion, not penetration.”

The play by Linda Griffiths is ‘wildly inspired’ by George Gissing‘s 1893 novel The Odd Women.  Mary Barfoot (Ann Louise Ross), an ex-militant suffragette, and her lover Rhoda (Clare Lawrence-Moody) are determined to make women rich by teaching them to master the new invention that will gain them freedom – the typewriter.

They recruit the three Madden sisters (Molly Innes, Hannah Donaldson and Alexandra Mathie) to their pioneering secretarial school.  The sisters have been suffering from ‘genteel starvation’ and pinning their spinsterly hopes on the youngest securing a suitable marriage to save them from certain destitution.

Pour into the mix the sensuous Evrard (Jamie Lee), a new man practising ‘free-loveism’ and supporting the liberation of women, and you have a heady concoction of intense female characters ranging from terrorists and alcoholics to cross dressers and mothers.

This sets in motion an odyssey which explores Jealousy: “the hierarchy of beauty offends me”; Love: “Your love is worth £400 per year”; and Idealism: “typing is the way to liberty”.

Linda Griffiths writes about her ‘philosophical ancestors’, the women in the suffragette movement who fought to be liberated from the chains of legalised prostitution, aka marriage, through economic empowerment, aka getting a job.

A stunning skeletal set is wheeled on and off the stark fabulist stage.  Sublimely surreal Victorian costumes are worn with wire stays on the outside along with tubular, dragon-scaled bustles.  Three lamp-lit Remington typewriters on wheels act their socks off as tools of liberation, enjoying a music-hall waltz with the characters.

The Age of Arousal makes devastating use of ‘thought-speak’, a way of conversing in an appropriate manner and yet in continual asides belying the real passions that lurk beneath.

With it’s stylized lighting, witty banter and high ideals, the play scored highly in all areas.  With one big but.  The script allowed little more than a political affinity with the characters’ conditions and stood in the way of true emotional engagement.

Nevertheless, a stellar production with fiesty quines and one very fine loon.

Show: The Age of Arousal by Linda Griffiths. Venue: Lyceum Theatre, Edinburgh. Dates: 18th Feb – 12th March 2011. Tickets: £5 – £28.  Times: Tues – Sats 19:45. Matinees: 2:30pm Wednesdays and Saturdays (23, 26 Feb and 2, 5, 12 March)

© Fin Wycherley

Check this article on STV Edinburgh here