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Review: Emmeline, The Cockpit

Written by Beatrice Hyde for the Theatre Lab Company, Emmeline explores the journey of the most notable voice fronting the Suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, in her pursuit of achieving the vote for women. With an acute focus on the complex relationships within the Pankhurst family, the play delves into the divide between Emmeline and her daughter Sylvia over their conflicting views on militant actions, inclusion, and social principles; debates that were mirrored in society in the early 20th century and yet are still discussed today. This retelling of one of feminism’s most significant movements brings a new angle to…

Summary

Rating

Ok

An interesting retelling of one of the most significant historical movements for women, but lacking in emotional expression.

User Rating: 3.69 ( 12 votes)

Written by Beatrice Hyde for the Theatre Lab Company, Emmeline explores the journey of the most notable voice fronting the Suffrage movement, Emmeline Pankhurst, in her pursuit of achieving the vote for women. With an acute focus on the complex relationships within the Pankhurst family, the play delves into the divide between Emmeline and her daughter Sylvia over their conflicting views on militant actions, inclusion, and social principles; debates that were mirrored in society in the early 20th century and yet are still discussed today.

This retelling of one of feminism’s most significant movements brings a new angle to the historical event by exploring the effects that the wider political struggle had on the family unit, most notably between the matriarch (Georgie Rhys) and her daughters Christabel (Lily-Fleur Bradbury), Sylvia (Charlie Hansen) and Adela (Lydia Vie). While Hyde’s writing is rooted in the work achieved by these integral players in the fight for suffrage, the focus is clearly on the four women themselves.

Starting with a minimalistic thrust stage, featuring only a wooden structure upstage, set pieces are used to portray different settings. While the intent to create location was fulfilled on the night, the transitions of props on and off stage were unpolished, breaking the illusion being created by the acting, and becoming somewhat distracting to audience members. This being said, certain props were then used effectively to create the feelings of imprisonment and mistreatment that many suffragettes faced during this time period.

While the effort of the actors involved was evident, there were many imperfections in performances throughout. Multiple lines were fumbled, cues were missed, and props misplaced, breaking the serious tone that was expressed through much of the show. Without the stronger performances executed by the likes of Bradbury, Hansen and Jasmine Rachelle as Annie Kenney, much of the performance would have fallen flat and left the audience without a clear narrative. The emotional expression was extremely limited throughout, which caused certain moments to disappoint.

As a whole, Hyde’s exploration of the topic from multiple angles creates an interesting story, which does a good job of educating the audience on such an important part of history, and the writing offers a healthy portion of female empowerment. However, from a performance perspective, the production could use some extra rehearsal to polish out the imperfections.

Written by: Beatrice Hyde
Directed by: Anastasia Revi
Produced by: Theatre Lab Company

Emmeline is playing at The Cockpit until 14 November 2021. Further information about booking tickets for this show, and other productions showing at the Cockpit can be found via the link below.

About Lucy White

Lucy is currently a London-based university student studying drama. Since a very young age, she has been an avid theatregoer of both plays and musicals alike; She is very well practised in picking apart and delving deeper into what is being presented. She tells us she cannot wait to share her thoughts and feelings on what the stage has to offer!