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by on 19 March 2019

Countless Fascination


by Lizzie Milton

Snatchback and Joyous Gard at Cavern – The Vaults, Waterloo until 17th March

Part of The VAULT Festival (Week 8)

Review by Denis Valentine

It may be strange to start a review by talking about the final moment of a play, but with 10 the driving point of the past hour really hits home in the final seconds. The five actresses directly go up to the audience whispering names of women that the history books either like to gloss over or to forget entirely. As with the ten characters that the audience has just seen portrayed on stage, it is a wake-up call, a reminder that there are so many female figures from the past and now in the present whose accomplishments, achievements and impacts will also fail to be truly recognised.



When entering the Cavern’s stage room at the Vaults the audience gathers around the five actresses standing silently on the stage area. The costumes for the show are all variants of a blue dress which makes the fact that, although the stories cover a span from the first female monarch of Great Britain in 870 to Brenda Proctor, who led the 23,000 women miners’ strike in 2017, there is the continual notion that history keeps on repeating itself and the plight and struggles of the characters involved could be from the same time or centuries apart. Had it not been for the programme giving a brief synopsis of each character then it would have been almost impossible to place in time when the events some of them are talking about took place.


Director Nastazja Somers, although with limited time for each character, gives all a chance to shine and get their message and story across. It is also very well worked how each person can seamlessly go from being the main lead on stage to, within a second, transforming into the background and supporting the next person stepping forward.
The ten voices heard make it inevitable that each audience member will have a particular favourite. Lydia Bakelmun as Princess Caraboo is a wonderfully delivered piece and provides the first real tonal shift of the night. Her subtle use of weaving her story around the music feels effortless and suitably captivating. Each actress plays two characters and Pamela Jikiemi’s second turn as Mary Prince was also very engaging as it is a story that speaks directly to current events and relatable situations.

Rajiv Pattani (Lighting Designer) and Nicola Chang (Composer and Sound Designer) have a strong influence on proceedings, helping a stage with essentially no set or props to feel full and greatly atmospheric at the appropriate times. The music works well to give the feel of the change in setting and character for each actress and often the subtle light changes help punctuate the messages being sent across.

At times adding modern sensibilities to the characters helps drive home the message but can also lessen the value of seeing the person on stage and can at times make the messages feel more preachy than natural.

The play, written by Lizzie Milton, is essentially made up of ten monologues which are all strongly acted and well delivered along the strong thematic lines that Milton has running through. As such though, proceedings can begin to feel a bit repetitive in their nature, which is why moments of audience interaction and the way certain players use the music and lights helps break up what could otherwise start to feel monotonous.

Beth Eyre (who switches well between the artistically minded Gwen John to the far more mathematically grounded Joan Clarke) is one of the founders of the two companies involved with the production, Snatchback and Joyous Gard. With 10, Snatchback’s mission goal of ‘foregrounding roles for women’ feels well realised and it is the play’s triumph that it leaves its audience wanting to know more not just about the ten characters involved but also that there are countless more people with fascinating stories to tell.

Denis Valentine
March 2019

From → Drama, Fringe, Reviews

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