Reviewed by Nikki Cotter
Opening Night verdict ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
Based on the award-winning book by suffragette descendant Kate Pankhurst, adapted by Chris Bush and Miranda Cooper, Fantastically Great Women who Changed The World is an inspirational and empowering celebration of our strong sisters from history told in an inventive and engaging way.
This pacey production (75 minutes straight through) introduces us to schoolgirl Jade who has somehow managed to get left behind on her school trip, finding herself outside the Gallery of Greatness where a new exhibition is being prepared. Jade goes on a journey of self-discovery as she searches for advice amid her parents’ divorce from the many fantastically great women from history who come to life from the exhibition walls.
Kudzai Mangombe is superb as Jade, her portrayal of a young girl searching for her place in the world is both relatable and honest. Her journey is enriched and encouraged by her encounters with the likes of Emmeline Pankhurst, Freda Kahlo, Rosa Parks and cross channel swimmer Gertrude Ederle, portrayed brilliantly by Kirstie Skivington, Jade Kennedy, Renée Lamb and Christina Modestou.
Each actress takes on several roles as well as multiple costume changes, kick-ass choreography and some seriously stunning vocals, this all-female cast and accompanying band leave the audience in no doubt of the power of women. They light up each scene with high energy and skilful enthusiasm ensuring the attention of even the youngest theatre goer never wanes.
This is exactly the type of show young people should be seeing, it’s a wonderful whizz though history but never feels rushed with each character given ample time and space to tell their story. There’s comedy and colour throughout as well as poignancy and powerful moments which are treated with sensitivity and care.
As I watched, inspired by both the stories and performers delivering them, it struck me just how little as a woman in her early 40’s I’d been taught about females throughout my education, (bearing in mind I studied History to A-level standard) I’d only ever learnt about Anne Frank, educating myself further once I became an adult. Knowing there are brilliant productions like this bringing incredible women to the forefront in such a fun and accessible way fills me with hope for our future fantastically great generations.
Inspirational storytelling, filled with heart, colour and charisma, Fantastically Great Women is an absolute joy!
Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is on at The Lowry until Saturday 9th April with the tour continuing across the country until Sunday 17th July, tickets and further infomation are available here.