The Place Theatre, Bedford Saturday 6thApril
Review by Cara Lee (aged 21)
In Tomorrow’s Great Pageant, an already powerful play is given a fresh modern twist, with clever updates and interpretations adding a new perspective. Based on Cecily Hamilton’s 1909 suffrage play A Pageant of Great Women, in which Woman defends her right to vote against the protestations of Prejudice, by presenting the achievements of several great women and developed through 6 workshops, this show reinterprets the storyline for modern politics, powerfully linking it to the activism of today.
The original play’s dialogue is kept intact in the play’s first scenes and the first twist comes in the women listed, as past figures present a new generation. We then flash forward to the modern day, where the archetypal image of Woman has now gained the same privilege that she once fought against. She is an almost comic, with several witty lines, but has a villainous edge and laughs of the issues of modern-day activism from gender neutral toilets to the Border Wall, to the simple act of two hands holding. There are also several funny lines in reference to a certain very prominent political figure that Woman is clearly mimicking, which further brings the original text into the sphere of modern politics.
As Woman is forced to face up to her privilege, the performers who represent these issues powerfully stand up to fight for the same recognition that she was granted all those years ago: and we as an audience are given a fresh perspective on the original text, reconsidering how far the rights granted to women so long ago still apply in modern society.
Without giving too much away, the new weapons prejudice has gained in the modern age are also cleverly interwoven into the storyline.
Having attended the initial meeting to discuss the play prior to the workshops themselves, it was fascinating to see how the ideas first brought up then have been developed over the last few months. Overall, this witty and well written play is a fantastic and powerful watch.