KGS Theatre Company
Stories of female prisoners have always fascinated audiences, as does this story of the transport ships delivering female convicts to Australia and the harsh and terrible conditions that they endured under the watch of private enterprise captains and their cutthroat crews.
Visually, this adaptation of Gooch's script has echoes of Orange is the New Black with the modern costuming and the convicts all kitted out in American-style Orange jumpsuits. It's interesting as this does show that, aside from the historical setting and the occasional use of period slang such as calling policemen 'peelers', the verbal interactions seem largely modern.
While probably quite realistic, Gooch's script is more than a little clichéd. The crew and officers make for the smaller part of the narrative, as they occasionally pop up to make 'shocking' proclamations which show how they are simply interested in money and not the care of their charges.
Meanwhile, the largely uninterested surgeon occasionally pops in to roll his eyes and get irritated, before stomping off. The women are a slightly more interesting bunch, but they feel largely like a host of stereotypes. The fact the show stretches out over six months with little obvious growth and change in most of the characters means that it feels a little flimsy. But it's still a good performance from a capable young cast.
It's important to point out that the day I saw the play, there was actually a 15 minute break in the middle due to the illness of an audience member, one that that company dealt with admirably and resumed the show with an increased gusto.
Reviewer: Graeme Strachan