Women Power and Politics: Then
by Marie Jones, Moira Buiffini, Rebecca Lenkiewicz, Lucy Kirkwood.

Tricycle Theatre 269 Kilburn High Road NW6 7JR In rep to 17 July 2010.
8pm 14, 17, 22, 23, 25, 28 June, 1, 6. 7, 8, 12, 15 July.
2pm 16, 30 June, 14 July.
4pm 19, 26 June, 3, 10, 17 July.
Runs 2hr 45min One interval.

TICKETS 020 7328 -1000.
Review: Carole Woddis 11 June.

Four views of the story so far.
Where are the women in today’s political Britain? All but invisible as the newly constituted Coalition Government confirms.

In another epic from the Tricycle Theatre, this timely festival of Women Politics and Power in 21st Century Britain examines this proposition. It also says much for the prescience of its instigator, Nick Kent.

Director Indhu Rubasingham writes in the programme that Kent ‘phoned her a year ago suggesting this project about Women Power and Politics in Britain, having noticed their absence in an article about the (then) Shadow cabinet.

So here we are, nine plays, three curtain raisers plus films and an exhibition.

Divided into two parts (see separate review for second half), Then inevitably focuses on such obvious historical subjects such as suffragettes, Elizabeth I and Maggie Thatcher, although Lucy Kirkwood’s Bloody Wimmin reminds us how quickly women’s history can be forgotten.

Marie Jones’s The Milliner and The Weaver – typically, from this writer – is refreshing in its Northern Ireland view of sufrragism and how its momentum was cut short by the campaign for Home Rule. Niamh Cusack and Stella Gonet are terrific (as they are throughout in a wide range of roles), with Cusack’s impassioned working class mother bowing to family duties rather than women’s rights.

Rebecca Lenkiewicz’s The Lioness is a beautifully written portrait of Elizabeth I (Cusack again in brilliant form) emphasising the cost for a woman in power but adds nothing new. Moira Buffini’s Handbagged on the other hand has huge fun with the recent example of Women in Power, in the supposed rivalry between the Queen and Maggie Thatcher. Kika Markham, revelatory as Elizabeth II, is subtle and perpetually benignly non partisan – except when it comes to the Commonweath. Gonet has Thatcher’s voice off to a tee.

Sandwiched between are contrasting and edited interviews from various women MPs edited by Gillian Slovo. Kirkwood’s Bloody Wimmin closing the first half seems to barely do justice to Greenham Common until Markham, again, as a middle-class wife expresses the commitment of those times. All too easy to laugh at passion’, the play better late than never, concludes.

The Milliner and The Weaver by Marie Jones:
Henrietta: Niamh Cusack.
Elspeth: Stella Gonet.
Thomas: Felix Scott.

Handbagged by Moira Buffini:
T: Stella Gonet.
Q: Kika Markham.
Mags: Heather Craney.
Liz: Claire Cox.
Reagan: Tom Mannion.
Shea: Simon Chandler.

The Lioness by Rebecca Lenkiewicz:
Queen Elizabeth I: Niamh Cusack.
Doctor: Simon Chandler.
John Knox: Tom Mannion.
Essex: Oliver Chris.
Courtiers: John Hollingworth, Felix Scott.

Bloody Wimmin by Lucy Kirkwood:
Helen: Claire Cox.
Little Girl: Amy Loughton.
Reporter: Heather Craney.
Graham: Felix Scott.
Margaret: Niamh Cusack.
Hannah: Amy Loughton.
Lorraine: Stella Gonet.
Bob: Oliver Chris.
Jack: Simon Chandler.
Dan: Tom Mannion.
Liv: Amy Loughton.
Lou: Heather Craney.
James: John Hollingworth.
Sophie: Lara Rossi.
Lillian: Kika Markham.

plus Verbatim Accounts by Gillian Slovo from interviews with:
Baroness Shirley Williams: Stella Gonet.
Edwina Currie: Claire Cox.
Ann Widdecombe: Kika Markham.
Jacqui Smith: Heather Craney.
Oona King: Lara Rossi.
Gillian Slovo: Amy Loughton.

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.

And three post-show debates:
1 July The Electoral System – A Masculine Democracy? chaired by Reeta Chakrabarti.
8 July Women In Politics vs Sexuality and Media chaired by Bonnie Greer.
15 July Women in Parliament – Why is Britain So Far Behind The Rest of Europe? chaired by Clare Short.

2010-06-14 00:29:17

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