Ginger Hibiscus | Ginger Hibiscus | The Legacy at the Hope Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | The Legacy at the Hope Theatre
Ginger Hibiscus | The Legacy at the Hope Theatre
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09 Jun REVIEW: The Legacy at the Hope Theatre

What does “feminism” mean to you? Does it strike you almost as a form of extremism, women insisting on preferential treatment, upset about even the slightest of comments and the most jovial of bottom pats? Maybe it strikes you as something critically important, for exactly the same reasons. Or perhaps you believe in gender equality, but think the word “feminism” feels like a dirty word, meaning something different to you than “equality?” Maybe you don’t believe in gender equality at all. Or maybe your views don’t align with any of these. Either way, it’s a divisive word, one that provokes a strong emotional reaction and carries with it the baggage of decades of campaign, decades of propaganda, and decades of use by people with entirely different agendas.

the-legacy-HOPE-production-020Through characters Esther (Claira Watson Parr) and Rebecca (Lucinda Westcar), The Legacy explores two very different 21st century ideological perspectives on feminism. Despite having both been born of the same parents, the women inhabit opposite ends of the attitudinal spectrum when it comes to women’s rights and roles in society, both decidedly middle-class, but one a happy housewife, married with children, pursuing a hobby career in furniture “up-cycling,” and pleased to have been empowered to be able to choose this life for herself, the other a fully fledged women’s rights activist, parroting statistics on the failure of police to act on accusations of rape and becoming embroiled in direct action campaign controversy — a woman many would call a “bra burning feminist.”

Of course both women are irritatingly self-righteous caricatures, vehemently portraying two extreme stereotypes that, yes, are rather simplistic, but that are brought delightfully to life with a plethora of middle-class references sure to be greeted with a knowing smile and occasional giggle, in a script (Angela Clarke) guaranteed to both set your blood boiling, and make you laugh. The point, it would seem, isn’t so much to stage a single realistic character, but to present two ends of a scale, and to stimulate discussion on where we should position ourselves within the middle ground between them.

The context for this study into 21st century gender attitudes, is, rather fittingly, an archaic symbol of patriarchal conservatism, a solicitor’s office, where the women – and Rebecca’s husband, Adam (Jim Mannering) – are brought together following years of being estranged, to await the reading of their late father’s will. There’s an inherent, and necessary, awkwardness about a family coming together following a long absence, and it’s an awkwardness which feels quite tangible to audience members, ballooning out and filling the space.

Mannering’s Adam has that disconcerting combination of being absolutely vile and yet all-too-familiar, as he claims, “the war is done. Stand down.” He’s wrong, of course, but he’s truthfully no more offensive than many this reviewer has come across in corporate circles, even in the last year or so. Less convincingly self-assured than would be ideal, Mannering both looks and sounds the part, an omnipresent BlackBerry beckoning Adam away to “more important” things completing another stereotypical image.

A play aimed at stimulating debate on important ideas, like whether or not there are situations in which a victim of rape could ever be considered responsible for what happened to them (the answer, here, is a resounding no, but testing the detail is a clear conversation-starter, and conversation is the real route to attitude change), The Legacy is a play with good ideas and a strong social intention at its heart. One that would benefit from a little more nuance, and a little less exposition, it is, nevertheless, an engaging watch, and one capable of rousing a strong response.

For tickets and information:
Venue: The Hope Theatre
Dates: 8th June – 13th June
Images: Ben Broomfield

Star Rating

Ginger Hibiscus don’t like using stars as a headline; we think they’re too reductionist, and that decision-making based on stars misses the point of a review. Just as you wouldn’t judge a personality using a five-point scale, theatre is multi-dimensional. So have a read, and then look at the stars afterwards.
Okay, fine, but how many stars do you give it? Click here