Women Power and Politics: Now
by Joy Wilkinson, Zinnie Harris, Bola Agbaje, Sam Holcroft, Sue Townsend.
Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR In rep to 17 July 2010.
8pm 15, 16, 18, 19, 21, 24, 26, 29, 30 June, 2, 3, 5, 8, 10, 13, 14, 16, 17 July.
2pm 23 June, 7 July.
Runs 2hr 35min One interval.
TICKETS 020 7328 1000.
Review: Carole Woddis 11 June.
Now is a testing time for playwrights.
This second part of the Tricycle festival of Women Politics and Power is less substantial and more of a grab-bag look at the interconnection of Women, Power and Politics in Britain today. Contemporary history is so much more difficult to pin down.
Interwoven once again with edited highlights from Gillian Slovo’s interviews with Ann Widdecombe, Edwina Currie and others, the opportunity for young writers Joy Wilkinson and Bola Agbaje to make their mark is not unfortunately taken.
Neither Wilkinson’s Acting Leader (about Margaret Beckett’s temporary hold on the Labour Party leadership before being overwhelmed by the `dream ticket’ of Blair and Prescott) or Agbaje’s Playing the Game – the cult of celebrity meets student politics – carry sufficient weight or skill.
Seasoned campaigner Zinnie Harris’ all-male The Panel however scores some subtle points, highlighting the confusions of the modern male when it comes to evaluating women in the workplace. Too clever or too attractive, in either case she is a threat.
By far the strongest contribution is Sam Holcroft’s Pink, a hardhitting, impressive piece about pornography – perhaps inspired by the shananigans of Jacqui Smith’s husband – that posits Stella Gonet’s female Prime Minister opposite Heather Craney’s self-made porn queen, Kim.
Last year Holcroft was responsible for the imaginative and moving, trimmed down version of Uncle Vanya at Notting Hill’s Gate Theatre. Here, she wrong-foots us, turning what looks increasingly like blackmail from the PM into a plea for Kim to use her control of the porn industry to influence a change in sexual power relationships.
A touch fanciful, at least it shares with Sue Townsend’s You, Me and Wii the capacity to freshly imagine old situations. Townsend employs a changing-places scenario between an incumbent female MP and a sink estate housewife to re-emphasise the gaps in class and also the conflicts arising from juggling being an MP with being a mother.
All in all, it’s a great showcase for some terrific acting from the women and fine, supportive endeavours from the men. But in a multi-racial society, it does seem peculiarly bizarre to have no play that explores either race or religion.
Acting Leader by Joy Wilkinson:
Margaret Beckett: Niamh Cusack.
Woman: Lara Rossi.
The Panel by Zinnie Harris:
Chris: Oliver Chris.
Maurice: Tom Mannion.
Bill: Felix Scott.
Jason: John Hollingworth.
David: Simon Chandler.
Playing the Game by Bola Agbaje:
Jenny: Lara Rossi.
Charlene: Claire Cox.
Akousa: Amy Loughton.
Pink by Sam Holcroft:
Kim: Heather Craney.
Amy: Amy Loughton.
Bodyguard: Tom Mannion.
Bridget: Stella Gonet.
You, Me and Wii by Sue Townsend:
Courtney: Amy Loughton.
Kerry: Heather Craney.
Sheila: Kika Markham.
Vincent: Felix Scott.
Selina: Claire Cox.
Mark: John Hollingsworth.
plus Verbatim Accounts; edited by Gillian Slovo from interviews::
Edwina Currie: Claire Cox.
Ann Widdecombe: Kika Markham.
Jacqui Smith: Heather Craney/Niamh Cusack.
Oona King: Lara Rossi.
Director: Indhu Rubasingham.
Designer: Rosa Maggiora.
Lighting: Matthew Eagland.
Sound: Tom Lishman.
Fight director: Bret Yount.
Plus three Curtain Raisers in conjunction with the National Theatre Studio:
21, 29 June 6.45-7.15pm How to Look Good in Power by Lydia Adetunji.
22 June, 5 July 6.45-7.15pm Penny Dreadful by David Watson.
28 June, 6 July 6.45-7.15pm Thirteen by Abbie Spallen.