- Gareth K Vile
- 26 August 2018
Clumsy if heartfelt feminist historical drama
Set the evening before three women are punished for witchcraft, Kriya arts attempt to link contemporary oppression with the horror of the great Christian persecutions of the early modern era. With a script that leans heavily on mannered dialogue, and three interludes from the characters commenting on twenty-first century challenges, Sisterhood revolves around a hidden theological history, notably Julian of Norwich's eloquent words on God the Mother, the status of motherhood and marriage and the way that male behaviour is indulged while women are marginalised and left to pick up the pieces.
A happy and defiant sing-along finale does little to dispel the mood of pessimism that defines the historical narrative: the three women await judgement and through fantasies of escape and reflections on their lives expose the cultural misogyny that has condemned them. There are intelligent comments on the invisibility of older women, the problems of not having children in a society that insists on motherhood as a prime female identity and the crushing of potential through stereotyping, but these are not developed, and lack an emotional punch. The moments when the performers step out of character to directly address the audience are moving, but don't connect effectively to the main narrative.
While Sisterhood addresses vital issues, it fails to integrate them into a script that is stilted and blunt: the format feels old-fashioned and the passion of the final song is hampered by the polite and measured direction. Nevertheless, the three performers are strong and the reclamation of history is considered and, at times, provocative as it questions the links between past oppression and the present.
Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug, 12.45pm, £11 (£10)