Firstly, I’d just like to draw attention this this exchange:
Greyscale offered me a free ticket to their show. This is amazing. I couldn’t accept the free ticket because I was busy, but instead I paid for a ticket and went on Saturday. Because there’s something really exciting about a company who are so keen to share this thing they’ve made that they are happy to give tickets to randomers on social media. Kindness is the best form of marketing.
It’s a lovely steady solemn show. Beautiful, really. Beautifully acted, with two performers circling one another in an endless dance and creating characters with depth and warmth using what is actually a very small number of words in not a very long show. Beautifully written, too, full of the kind of over-lapping dialogue that cosies up to you in familiarity.
There’s this thing that bothered me.
I worry it bothered me because someone pointed this thing out to me before I saw the show and so it was all I could think about.
It still bothered me.
Why were these two women being played by men?
This is no way a slight on the two performers who were great. Wonderful.
But there are definitely women who can perform as well as they did.
It’s portraying two women warmly and with deep complexity. And it’s written and directed by a woman. It’s just that these could be women on stage, and I think the show would remain as warm and complex.
In fact, there are women on stage. A real-life actual mother and daughter duo sit at the side of the stage and watch on. But, in the presence of these two men portraying women, I found the actual women’s silence a bit… distressing.
about how women are underrepresented in theatre. So, then, when there’s this brilliant script with a solid, driven and clearly lovely company behind it, it’s a bit upsetting to see these two fantastic roles that could so easily be women go to men.
Of course there’s a reason behind it.
In an exquisite write, Tim Bano suggests the gender reversal lends the story universality… but does that mean women cannot be empathised with in the same way? Over at HuffPost, Jessie Thompson puts forward that ‘This genderless casting has the effect of removing the baggage of womanhood’, but manhood too comes with all its own baggage. Andrew Haydon reads it as a ‘jobshare’ between the actual mother and daughter and the two performers – but even this leaves me unconvinced, as the actual mother and daughter could remain as captivated while the actors still spent less time making it apparent that they were acting like they were really mother and daughter.
I can comprehend and understand every one of these points, can see why they are probably actually right, can see that maybe I am being a bit too simplistic with this. But I still have this ache because I wanted to see women speaking on stage.
Honestly, I’m not trying to do a disservice to Gods Are Fallen and All Safety Gone because it is a gorgeous, tender thing (seriously, read Tim Bano’s review). And because it is such a gorgeous thing, like so many plays before it, it just feels like women got a bit robbed while they sat silently at the side as the men got to lap up the really poetic dialogue and intense feelings.
Camden People’s Theatre