I met a group of guys from Manchester looking for directions to Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter on my way to it yesterday. No wonder – it’s gorgeous, filled with trendy places to eat and drink and home to The MAC, the jewel of St Anne’s Square.
I got to the venue a little early to take in the ambiance and enjoy a drink from NATIVE, a Yellow Door venture inside the MAC itself.
A funny and fresh commentary on life and the theatre at the end of the 17th century, with a strong dash of feminism – welcome to Playhouse Creatures.
Depicting the ups and downs of five of the first actresses to hit the stage in (almost) credible roles after King Charles II lifted the ban on women in the theatre in the late 17th century, April de Angelis’ Playhouse Creatures will leave you teary-eyed in parts and gasping for air from laughing in others. The play doesn’t shy away from any difficult theme: relationships, loss, autonomy, poverty, misogyny, abortion, abuse, ageism – all carried by a tremendously talented cast of local actresses.
The play highlights the frustrations of limited freedom and caged choices, the toxic mix of being allowed on stage and being offered roles that only further the chains women were trying to escape. Not, perhaps, unlike today’s difficulty faced by screen actresses looking for roles with more than few lines and a sexualised wardrobe; nor even, from earlier this week, unlike Viola Davis’ Emmy victory speech reminding us that roles can’t be played unless they are written. Bruiser Theatre Company is to be commended for selecting to tour this piece for that very reason.
Playhouse Creatures will be at The MAC until tomorrow and will then tour NI & ROI until October 16th.