- Gareth K Vile
- 20 August 2019
Musical and physical theatre that celebrates feminists
Although the New Victorians sketch out a series of familiar feminist icons from the twentieth century, including Corrie ten Boom who helped Jewish families escape from Nazi occupied Amsterdam and suffragette Emmeline Pankhurst, their physical theatre infused blend of live music and episodic narratives has time for some lesser known names: composer Dame Ethyl Smith, who battled prejudice, worked with the suffragettes and finally became recognised by the establishment. The presence of two musicians on a platform above the ensemble lends an atmosphere of swirling disorientation, with the cast shifting impressionistically between eras and roles.
The company's energy and enthusiasm drives the action at a fair pace and allows the diverse stories to mesh. Parallels are drawn between the oppression of the British government and the Nazi state, and the story of the suffragettes is complicated and deepened by snapshots of their lives and actions that bring home both the casual and legal repression of their freedoms.
There isn't always enough clarity in the connection between the more abstract musical reflections on feminist philosophy and the scenes from history, and the more choreographed sequences operate more as interruptions than furthering the polemic, yet the intention of the New Victorians to celebrate the triumphs of feminists without flinching at the fierceness of the opposition that they faced is articulated with style and dynamism.
Pleasance Dome, until 26 Aug, 2pm, £11–12 (£10–11).