Sunday, July 14

The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women – Brixton House Theatre

Throughout mythology and history, women who go against societal norms face the judgement of others and come up against a justice system that appears to be designed against them. Theatre makers Janaina Leite and Lara Duarte here produce a journey exploring the nature of judgement – by others, by the legal system, by other women and too often by themselves. The show presents a gamut of historical figures such as Jean d’Arc and Mary Queen of Scots, alongside mythological goddesses, plus the contemporary, personal stories of women who are seen as transgressive.

Told in three parts, the first, in promenade form, focuses on the goddesses, forthright and full of passions, and chastised and pilloried as a result. Act 2 moves to the courts in what is part drama, part TED-talk on the evolution of the justice system. The story travels via Brecht’s Caucasian Chalk Circle where women are pitted against each other, to the present-day justice system and its injustices, with its rituals of judges and lawyers that seem created to mystify the indicted. The third act is a dark and hazy depiction of incarcerated women, supporting each other through their despair.

Janaina Leite’s direction is bold. Having two of the goddesses present their individual stories simultaneously from opposite sides of the room is an indication of how often women challenge each other, competing to be heard, their voices ever more loud and shrill. Practically for the audience, this makes it difficult to hear what the goddesses are saying, which is likely the point The format also subverts the usual theatrical rituals by starting as a promenade performance and later including audience members into a courtroom scene. The set is minimal, consisting of chairs and a ladder for the narrator/judge who directs the storyline. Nothing more is needed.

The cast of Athena Maria, Dominque Lavine Wood-Whyte, Kim Teresa Marsh, Sarah-Jane Dent and Yvonne Wickham are hugely talented, presenting multiple characters with total credibility and conviction. This is a thought-provoking, unique and uncomfortable exploration of the judgements faced by women, packing a huge punch into its 80-minutes running time.

The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women plays at the Brixton House Theatre until 22nd June.  Tickets are on sale from https://brixtonhouse.co.uk/

Reviewer: Carole Gordon

Reviewed: 17th June 2024

North West End UK Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.
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