[How’s that for a pretentious title!] Female empowerment. Speaking as a mother, I… sorry, wrong show. Anyway, my day has taken me on a diverse journey of shows, some or all of which I can shoehorn into my chosen field for the day.
It began with I, Elizabeth at the Assembly George Street, written and performed by Rebecca Vaughan, directed by Guy Masterson. The whole tale was made from letters, speeches, etc. that Elizabeth I wrote or said, providing a fascinating insight into one of England’s most famous monarchs – her thinkings over marriage, children and the succession, Mary her sister and Mary Queen of Scots. Told in one scene without break, this must have been strenuous to perform and it was carried out beautifully. The occasional lighting-style buzzing lights presumably meant something I didn’t understand – time running out, reminder of mortality, or somesuch maybe – but you don’t need critical theory to know when something’s good, that’s what I say.
I wonder what Elizabeth would have made of roller derby. Described by Steven Wells as “something sexy, anti-corporate, amazingly fast and incredibly violent. A sort of anti-golf”, this fringe event of a match between the Auld Reeke Roller Girls’ Twisted Thistles and the London Rockin’ Rollers All Stars was packed – they said they’d never had a bigger audience. I wondered why roller derby seemed to be entwined with punk, but I did a quick Google and I see lots has been written on that by others paid to do so, so I’ll just say that it was fantastic. I’ve never been into football, I’ve never really followed much sport (apart from Wimbledon and curling), but that moment when your jammer bobs and weaves round the opposing blockers to break through the pack – when you find your heart in your mouth, your hands clapping with no conscious thought involved, the surge of noise from the crowd – it’s quite a feeling. I was obviously supporting Edinburgh, as I’m living here for the month, but sadly we lost 117-93.
Whilst this was on, I had sent my sister and her friend to Simon Callow, I’ll try and get her to write a review at some point. I think they liked him.
Disney princesses are not – pace Enchanted, and even then – known for their empowerment. Princess Cabaret by seven Australian women showed us what six Disney princesses (Aurora, Jasmine, Belle, Ariel, Cinderella and Snow White) and Tinkerbell would more likely have been thinking through songs and sketches – Jasmine being told that once she marries Aladdin he’ll be running the country even though she’s been preparing her whole life and he’s a street urchin; Belle telling Beast she preferred him before his human transformation; and a lovely madrigal, on a topic I can’t quite recall now but they definitely had quite a lot of fa-la-la-la-la-ing going on.
Folk Tales Trilogy at Spotlites was a quieter affair, retelling three folk tales – Norse, Russian, and Welsh – all with a theme of loss and (except for the Welsh, why are their myths always depressing?) recovery. More modern dance than I would normally choose to go to, but the tellings were strong and acting (and props/costumes 😉 ) well done.
Lastly, Tripod vs the Dragon at the Assembly. A satire – and yet not – of any Dungeons & Dragons tale you’d care to mention, this was a well acted and sung musical production with some funny shadow puppeting and geeky asides. Elana Stone was fabulous as the dragon; her voice on Ivory Tower or On Paper (I haven’t suddenly got a good memory, I bought the CD) was heartwrenching in places – and her keyboard was rather good too. The men, yeah they were very good, but the woman stole the show.