BWW REVIEW: With Captivating Clarity REVOLT.SHE SAID.REVOLT AGAIN Reminds Us That There Is Still A Long Way To Go In Achieving The Respect And Recognition Women Deserve.
Friday 4th May 2018, 8pm, Old 505 Theatre Kings Cross
In a world more cognisant of inequality when it comes to gender, Alice Birch's REVOLT.SHE SAID.REVOLT AGAIN reminds us that change has not been fully achieved at that we cannot stop fighting. Under Charles Sander's careful and considered direction, the brilliant cast of six present a range of examples of how the world would look if misogyny and a male dominated culture were challenged by inverting the stories along with expressions of how ingrained the violence and abuse of women has become and therefore the size of the challenge faced to change mindsets.
This work, which saw its stage debut in 2014 with the Royal Shakespeare Company and won Birch the George Devine Award for Most Promising Playwright, is confronting and captivating and unfortunately recognisable and relatable. Charles and his cast of Violette Ayad, Anna Cheney, Enya Daly, Richard Hilliar, Moreblessing Maturure and Eliza Sanders (also co-Artistic Director of House Of Sand with Charles) are not afraid to challenge the audience with formidable displays of feminine power as they bring to life Birch's words which seek to show what a shift in power would look like whilst also expressing the humanity that seeks to understand and educate. With a series of short scenes, punctuated by projections of statements urging revolution and how to achieve it, common conversations are reframed to give loudest voice to the person usually least heard, whether it be the woman in a heterosexual relationship with a man that uses aggressive and self-serving language that he expects is a turn on, a recipient of a marriage proposal who sees it as something other than a declaration of love, or a worker wanting work life balance but being met with corporate deafness and programs put in place to placate and ignore. Other stories are presented from women who are seeking change, from the woman tries to remove the power men have by reframing her vulnerability to the recognition of efforts made to save oneself but also the confusion of how that correlates with the maternal instincts. Some works are straight forward with meaning easily apparent, others, like Act 3's layered confusion capture the relentless number of issues that still exist but aren't necessarily getting the coverage they deserve or are quickly dismissed as new fights emerge.
Stephanie Howe gives the performers a relatively simple space to tell their stories, initially encased in white sheers, the white focal point of the stage remains relatively bare throughout. Her costuming coveys the power dressing that whilst indicating a shift in control also shows signs of the patriarchal society that convinces women that they need to have makeup, heels and padded shoulders to be seen as 'fit for the job'. Howe uses the costuming to draw on references to historical figures like Emmeline Pankhurst and the performers use their physicality, such as Cheney's rendition of Julie Bishop's piercing stare to remind the audience that the struggle for equality and recognition isn't a new concept. Sophie Pekbilimli's lighting allows the focus to be drawn on the characters whilst holding the stage in shadows during scene changes, allowing the suspense to be held and the machinations of the performance to be glimpsed as the work straddles between script and characterisation and what appears to be realism and truth in the delivery which appears as a struggle between the performer and the piece.
Whilst Eliza Sanders' history is predominantly as a dancer and choreographer, this foray into dramatic work is wonderful as she presents a delicious confidence and power in scene one whilst being able to capture the innocence of the damaged young child in scene five. Violette Ayad gives a strong, considered but passionate voice to the growing view that marriage is more a transaction than a declaration of love whilst Anna Cheney presents a number of women who have adopted the masculine mentality and seemingly forgotten their feminine roots reminding the audience that change needs to occur without loosing sight of who we are and morphing into a male mindset isn't the answer. Enya Daly's turn as the woman attacked by the supermarket management delivers a captivating monologue of the proposal to remove the power of assault and objectification by offering it in the manner that people argue that burlesque dancers and prostitutes are actually empowered as they dictate the control of their bodies raising the question of whether that power is removed from men, will behaviours change. Moreblessing Maturure is formidable as the supermarket manager talking over her male counterpart but it is her portrayal of a daughter wanting answers from a broken mother as she seeks to offer her own child a better future is the most poignant as the damage of domestic violence is recounted. As the sole male of the piece, Richard Hilliar presents the awful insensitivity of the male voice that lurks through the scenes with the requisite arrogance and ignorance to the weight of his words.
REVOLT.SHE SAID.REVOLT AGAIN is a captivating, confronting call to action. For those that understand the challenges and had moments of recognition, possibly being subjected to the inequality of the patriarchal society, it is a reminder that we still have a fight for lasting change. This is an important work for everyone to see, not just those that are already aware of the need for equality and action but those that may be perpetuating the problems of the patriarchal society, be that male or female. Do not miss this important production.
2 - 19 May 2018
Old 505 Theatre