Brighton Fringe 2009
Venue: Old Police Cells Museum, Under Brighton Town Hall
A harrowing and remarkable play, excellently written, performed and produced. There is nothing I can fault about this seamless and intelligent production, an absolutely brilliant and professional piece that deserves the highest of accolades.
I had the pleasure of seeing Squaremoon Ltd.’s Total in the Old Police Cells last year, so I knew what to expect when being dragged down into Brighton Town Hall’s dungeon: a small, intimate space, crammed full of old benches and gloom. Squaremoon did not try and tart up the room, but left it in its squalid splendour, which was the perfect setting for this dark and powerful play.
The script is absolutely phenomenal. It captures, almost instantaneously, the character of Sylvia Pankhurst and her struggle for universal suffrage, and counterpoints her against a Wardress, who evokes the simple life of a hard-working woman of the time. I was expecting a show about suffrage, but this also touched on the emotional suffrage of the working woman, the personal reaction to Pankhurst’s campaign, and this added character was an excellent device, as well as a fully fledged character in her own right. The subtle direction made these two characters’ interaction come to life beautifully, their terse interaction rewarded with a final understanding and acknowledgement. The music tweaked emotional strings amply, whilst also moving the plot through time admirably, and was faultlessly implemented. My only slight critique is the lighting: the audience being lit made the piece begin very slowly for me, as I never felt like I could watch over being watched, but this subsided quickly, and lighting effects were clearly hard to achieve in a space so small.
If this review seems a little distant, it is not due to lack of quality or ability. I find myself so amply affected by this piece that, even a day later, the music echoes around my head, and I cannot escape the emotional intensity of this play. It is exceptionally realised, every single aspect of the production is delivered excellently and professionally, and is not something I would expect to see from a Fringe production. I recommend this piece absolutely: it is the best show I have seen this Fringe.