Review: Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival – Women on the Edge

“It’s something about my appearance that I can control”

The Women on the Edge session of the Women Centre Stage: Power Play Festival featured three works that were commissioned and developed from the 2015 festival held at the National Theatre. This just happened to include one of my favourite pieces from across the entire day – Camilla Harding and Alexandra Sinclair’s Man Up! Deceptively simple in its format yet deliciously complex in its subject matter, the pair give the lie to conventional gender norms and make a fabulously compelling case for the importance of recognising gender fluidity in society.

Their stagecraft is ingenious too, transformations subtly worked so that they were halfway complete before you clock exactly what’s going on. Judith Jones and Beatrix Campbell’s Justice has no such ambiguity about it, an emotionally bruising look at the lasting impact of the Cleveland child abuse scandal and the trials its victims face in trying to escape its shadow, in search of a truth, a resolution that might somehow set them free. Directed by Ros Philips, Claire-Louise Cordwell’s damaged warrior of justice is a brilliantly thorny part and contrasted well with Kathryn O’Reilly’s softer but no less fierce budding campaigner.

And last up here was Matilda Ibini’s She Didn’t Jump She Was Pushed, directed by Helen Barnett. Imagining a dystopian but disturbingly convincing contemporary world where reality television now selects the “most deserving” homeless person to be “saved”, Ibini gives us two friends, sisters, who’ve bonded in adversity and in an upcoming pregnancy. She dares to suggest that even homeless people wouldn’t be prepared to sacrifice their humanity in the face of a Simon Cowell-like svengali figure (Kevin Hand) and Ronke Adekoluejo and Anita Joy Uwajeh portrayed this relationship beautifully. 

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