Feminist fun at Emilia! at The Vaudeville

London Event Reviews by May B

In a smart spin on the days when men played all roles in theatre, Emilia presents a diverse all-female cast playing both female and male characters.

Three leads play Emilia Bassano during various stages of her life – child, mistress, wife and mother. She is high minded when young and says eloquently “As I grow, I must shrink” – an insightful observation of women in society.

She is a poet and frustrated that, as a woman, her words cannot be published. Her passionate outpourings are captured by her lover – William Shakespeare – who uses them in his plays. It all gets rather chaotic as the players take positions in the auditorium to simulate a scene where one of Will’s plays are interrupted as Emilia reclaims her words.

The stage set appears like The Globe, which is where the play was first performed last year. The costumes are functional sixteenth-century attire rather than opulent. The music is provided by wandering minstrels. The singing at the start is quite breath taking.

I particularly enjoyed the female portrayal of the men – young and old – especially during some of the dance routines. There are some excellent comedy scenes – bright flashes of humour from the actors at the beginning as the young women learn their skills to ensnare a suitable husband.

It’s witty, cultured and politically correct. It prompted me to research the character Emilia and “the dark lady” in Shakespeare’s plays. It won’t be to everyone’s taste – but it’s a welcome fresh voice in the West End.

Emilia plays until 19th June at The Vaudeville Theatre on The Strand.

Posted Date
Mar 14, 2019 in London Event Reviews by May B by May B
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