“Deeds not Words.”
It is surprising how few plays tackle the issue of women’s right to vote. Theresa Heskins’ adaptation of Elizabeth Robins: Votes for Women provides an emotional yet humorous insight into the topic.
Set during the time of the women’s suffrage movement Votes for Women follows the story of the young and naive, Jean Dunbarton, played by Lowri Izzard.
Towards the beginning, Jean announces her engagement to up-and-coming politician, Geoffrey Stonor. However, Jean’s priorities begin to change once she is introduced to Miss Veda Levering who helps open her eyes to the women’s suffrage movement.
Unlike most tellings of the history of the movement, this play does not focus on the violent actions of the suffragettes. There are no women chaining themselves to railings nor throwing themselves in front of horses. This play depicts the movement up until that point and why their moto changed to ‘Deeds not Words.’
Hindsight and irony are used throughout the play to give a comedic twist to an otherwise serious story.
Hannah Edwards and Danielle Henry play the infamous, Christabel Pankhurst and Annie Kenney who were the first suffragettes to be imprisoned. They both live up to the characters, giving extremely emotive speeches with real conviction.
This play has come at an important time for women’s rights. It’s a commentary of just how far the rights of women have improved but also demonstrates the need for more to be done.
Although written more than 100 years ago, Theresa Heskins’ adaptation has enabled it to appeal to a modern audience.
The New Vic Theatre is a brilliant venue, providing an intimate setting which allows the audience to become fully immersed into the emotional story.
Votes for Women is at the New Vic Theatre until 24 March 2018. Visit the website for details.