The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women

Janaina Leite (director) and Lara Duarte (writer)
Lift and Clean Break in association with Brixton House
Brixton House

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Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women Credit: Ellie Kurttz

Poignant and full of heart.

Immersion begins when you are ushered into a room and invited to go find a Goddess. Four women in four corners, commanding your attention with their headdresses, tiaras and wings. The spotlight turns to 'the joker' who tells the crowd what they will see, hear and feel. She reads from a script, her voice is untrained and I dreaded 90 minutes stuck in this room before being released to an alcohol-free bar (Clean Break theatre company policy).

I don't know what magic trick The Joker performed, but I was soon won over by her charisma and toughness. She talks of an abusive mother and the way that messes with your entire life. She says she deserves the court sentences she got (theft including a bank robbery), but no longer cares for any judgement, other than that of her adult children.

Five women, letting us in on trauma that broke them. Abuse, drugs, theft, mental illness and care homes bedrock their stories. They weave these personal journeys into other women in history who took the road less trodden or riled against a system and suffered at the hands of it. The injustice and justice of it all. There was a tender connection between them: shared suffering as they exposed deep shame, held onto victories (15 years clean) and counted self-harm scars. One drew. All the time. Drew and drew.

These women have all been dragged through the court system; appalled, impressed and intimidated by the experience of this, they pull it apart and examine it from all angles: historical, factual and farcical. At some point, audience members make up a jury, and two people fight over a baby.

A line I'll take with me was, "no woman should ever, ever be parted from her own child. This must stop. Today."

Reviewer: Zia Trench

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