Echoes by Henry Naylor
Two women suffering the same fate in sturdy drama
This article is from 2015.
A veteran of stage and screen, and previous Fringe First winner for The Collector, Henry Naylor's pedigree is not in dispute. This sturdy play examines two intelligent young British women: Tillie, an outspoken Victorian maverick and Samira, a bright headstrong young Muslim in the present day.
They may be separated by over 175 years, but their concerns are the same; both have unwavering faith, both marry brutish men who promised so much, and the shared dreams of contributing to society unravel as soon as the rings are on their fingers.
Felicity Houlbrooke as Tillie and Filipa Braganca, making her Fringe debut as Samira, are both superb, crossing the stage to within touching distance as their lives overlap in grim climaxes of empire and extremism.
Political and cultural implications are plain – much progress has been made, but there is still a long way to go in terms of human rights.
The writing is taut, with evocative imagery throughout. The central motif of insects representing at once freedom and something to be stamped on represents a neat metaphor for women's progress. But more imaginative staging choices would make this a truly special production.
Gilded Balloon, 622 6552, until 31 Aug (not 19), 5.30pm, £10.50–£12.50 (£9.50–£11.50).