Reviewed by Jodie Crawford
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Written by Olivier award winning film maker, Jessica Swale, Blue Stockings is set in the late 1800s, a time where Britain was beginning to change for women. We follow the lives of four young women, from different backgrounds, all wanting to study at one of the greatest universities: Cambridge.
Although all the women are gifted and, despite not receiving the same level of education as their male counterparts, ambitious, they are not seen as equals and will not be able to graduate with a degree, but instead will be sent home empty handed. The play is the story of their struggle. The struggle for equality, education, inclusion and to be heard, but also the struggle to accept themselves, to know their place and ultimately the struggle of heartbreak: in its many forms.
The four women of Gorton College, Cambridge are Tess Moffat (Pippa Lane), Celia Willbond (Bronte James), Carolyn Addison (Madeleine Healey) and Maeve Sullivan (Olivia Brinkley). What an absolutely fabulous bit of casting this was. The women have such wonderful chemistry on stage, they each bring something different, but equally delightful to their performance. You get a real sense that they fully understand how important this story is to tell. They show us that women in the 1800s weren’t the stiff boring figures that many history books would have us believe. But they were full of hope and merriment. They struggled with many of the same issues as young women today: Are they good enough? Will they fall in love? Will they succeed? There is much to identify with, with these characters.
The “boys” played by Sam Evans, Callum Johnson, Tom Broughton, Charlie Gallagher and Chris Shoop-Worrall showed us what these young women were up against. In a time where men were taught that their needs and aspirations were much more important than those of a woman, it was clearly a struggle, even for young, educated men, to accept a woman as their peer, despite how intellectual they actually were.
This whole cast was excellent, a very high standard, as is expected from Altrincham Garrick productions. This production is Su Mowat’s directing debut at the Garrick, and she has debuted magnificently. The play is smooth and professional: it is complimented by lighting design by Geoff Scullard which is moody and atmospheric when it needs to be, creating depth on a simple stage. The original music composed by Mark Goggins was beautiful and at times very moving.
This is a wonderfully wonderful production, filled with laughter and heartache, performed by an exceptional cast. It is running until Saturday 8th October tickets are available here.