Emmeline: The Suffragette Movement ★★★★★ The Cockpit | November 3 - 14, 2021


Emmeline is Beatrice Hyde's confidently written debut play about the Suffragette movement and the family at its heart – the Pankhursts. The writing goes behind the usual well rehearsed stories and delves into the lives of a mother and her daughters. Georgie Rhys uses her superb voice to dominate proceedings as Emmeline. This is a tortured woman dedicated to her cause but also striving to be a caring parent. The large cast also features strong performances by Charlie Hansen as Sylvia and Lily-Fleur Bradbury as Christabel. However, it is the actual presentation of the play which is truly remarkable. Time and again, there are incredible visual moments as director, Anastasia Revi, creates breathtaking images, including a stunning depiction of a protest where the campaigners are brutally beaten by the police. The women are then imprisoned: the metaphor of placing their heads in bird cages struck us as a simple but inspired idea. The force feeding of one woman is terrifyingly realistic and the death of Emily Davison under the hooves of horses in the Derby is stunningly staged. The Cockpit's full height and breadth are used to give an impression of Parliamentary debate where politicians are seemingly above the real world. Having watched this thought-provoking play, one is left reflecting on the divisions, obstacles and sacrifices that come with wanting to transform society, yet the need for change remains. This is a very fine achievement which deserves to be seen.

Rated: ★★★★★

Reviewed by D.S.J.
Photo by Marisa Knight.

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