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Woman on Fire – Albany Theatre Studio, Coventry

Writer: John Woudberg

Director: Claire Moore

Reviewer: James Garrington

Ask people to come up with a list of the names of people involved in the UK Suffrage movement and it is unlikely that Edith Rigby would feature much. Overshadowed by some of her more famous contemporaries, Rigby nonetheless played a large part in the movement that fought for years to achieve voting rights for women – and here, over the course of 75 minutes, Claire Moore tells her story.

Starting from Rigby’s childhood we learn about her first involvement in social justice at a young age, her marriage and her protests. Moore delivers the dialogue in the character of Rigby and her friends and associates, but the play very much has the feel of storytelling rather than acting. The story itself is fascinating, often compelling, and that in itself is enough to maintain interest throughout, but Moore’s delivery can be a little too much on one level which gives the feel of being more a narration than acting. It is possible that this is an accurate portrayal of Rigby’s character, but if so it’s not as engaging as it might be and more obvious emotion – joy and despair, pain and determination – would add to the impact of the play enormously.

The script is written using the style and language of the period and performed on a basic set which suits the nature of the piece and the venue admirably. The lighting is simple but effective, helping to highlight changes of location or time period, and together with some basic costume changes takes us nicely through Rigby’s life from childhood to death.

The play runs out of steam somewhat towards the end, creating a bit of an anticlimax – even the momentous time in 1918 when some women were given the vote is mentioned almost in passing rather than celebrated, as is the time ten years later when women could finally vote on the same terms as men. Despite this, the play provides an educational and informative evening, worth seeing.

Runs Until 15 September 2018  | Image: Contributed

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Educational and informative

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The Central team is under the editorship of Selwyn Knight. The Reviews Hub was set up in 2007. Our mission is to provide the most in-depth, nationwide arts coverage online.

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