Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Adapted by Chris Bush from the book by Kate Pankhurst, lyrics by Chris Bush &; Miranda Cooper, music by Miranda Cooper & Jennifer Decilveo
Kenny Wax Family Entertainment in association with MAST Mayflower Studios
Pleasance Courtyard

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World

Take a walk down Princes Street, the long central road In Edinburgh, and you will see plenty of statues of men as if only men existed in the past. We shouldn't be surprised. An audit of UK statues found only 25 of them were historical, non-royal women contrasted with 498 statues of historical, non-royal men, 43 of whom are called John.

It looks as if our awareness of women’s contribution to the world needs some help.

The young schoolgirl Jade (Elise Zavou on the occasion I saw the show), who is looking for her school class, gets just that when she accidentally wanders into the closed east wing of a museum where an exhibition on fantastically great women who changed the world has not yet opened. In this mysterious section of the building, she meets a series of women who have shaped our world. They will chat with her, sing about some aspect of their fame, sometimes dance and then be replaced by another female visitor.

There is the aviator Amelia Earhart (Renée Lamb), the channel swimmer Gertrude Ederle (Christina Modestou) and Sacagawea (Jade Kennedy), the Native American who in her teens led an expedition thousands of miles.

When the campaigner for a woman's right to vote Emmeline Pankhurst arrives in a purple uniform, the audience enthusiastically sings along with the chorus line to action of “deeds not words”.

Another catchy sequence is the song "A World of Colour" sung and led by Frida Kahlo (Jade Kennedy).

This is a family-orientated event in which the dialogue is short and educational, the songs, with the exception of the gentle slow number "Lullaby" sung by the civil rights activist Rosa Parks (Renée Lamb), are all upbeat pop songs of a similar light, danceable memorability.

This eighty-minute fun celebration of women’s contribution to science (Marie Curie), aviation, the arts (Jane Austen) and civil rights is not the end of the story. It won't even change the long line of statues of men on Princes Street, but it should give everyone who sees it ideas about the way we pitch our stories about the people who have made our world a better place.

Reviewer: Keith Mckenna