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Womans (Like Romans But With a ‘W’)

Alice Higginson, Sian Keen, Laura Doble, and Hanora Kamen
Scratchworks Theatre Company
Vault (Brick Hall) Leake Street
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Try asking a group of your friends for their image of a Roman from Ancient Rome. They will perhaps mention a soldier or a man dressed in a tunic or a toga. Most will not mention a woman. That’s something Scratchworks Theatre Company are doing their bit to change with an energetic comic romp Womans (Like Romans But With a ‘W’).

Annabella (Alice Higginson) is determined to pass her AQA Module 4 History exam but, making little progress in her preparation of a presentation on Roman cloth-making, she enlists the help of audience member Sean, along with a magic Roman coin, to conjure up the muses Polly and Mell. They are none too pleased to discover Annabella is the responsible conjurer, given the rule that muses should really be inspiring men. Nevertheless they give her the story of Leta Luteus (Alice Higginson) who led an uprising in 54BC.

What follows are the incredible adventures of Leta, first as a rather rebellious Vestal Virgin given the duty of watching that the sacred fire upon which Roman security supposedly depended did not go out. (Who said the Romans didn’t offer woman good jobs?) However, when her sense of justice had her rushing into the street to pardon someone, the fire does go out.

Senators such as Mark Anthony try to punish her with erasure from history. As soldiers seek to arrest her, audience members get roped into the chase. Some found themselves giving a massage to a soldier in a bath house. I was asked where she had gone and tried to misdirect them.

It's all good, amiable, knockabout fun, with chariot races, gladiator fights, a rather different take on the downfall of Caesar and a flying woman. I’m not sure it will get Annabella through her AQA history but it certainly seemed to entertain the audience.

Keith Mckenna