You know when you’re watching a play and you’re already enjoying it immensely and then all of a sudden - out of nowhere - something so shockingly, heartbreakingly, devastatingly beautiful and sad and human happens and you sit in your seat and tears roll down your face and because you kind of feel a bit sick now from what’s just happened you let them fall? No? Well, you might, if you’d been to The White Bear in Kennington to see Women of Twilight.
The company is astonishing, honestly, and it’s so refreshing to see an ensemble of strong, talented women storm that tiny space and fill it to the brim with palpable energy. The play, written by Sylvia Rayman and published in 1951 tells a startlingly familiar tale. Yes that’s right, single mothers did exist in the 50’s, though history would have us believe differently.
I shan’t tell you the story, because really you should go and see it, but I shall say that everyone involved in the production acts their socks off. It is so full of words that it runs the risk of falling on its face and I suppose the one ‘criticism’ I’d have is that some of the actress’ could have jumped on their queues a lot more - sorry ladies! But still. I even forgave the blackouts between scenes because they were so slick, and the choice of music was so apt that I felt comfortable sitting in the darkness and simply listening, contemplating, waiting.
My heart goes out to Emma Reade-Davies who plays Sally in the show. In fact I’d go so far as to say that it’s some of the best acting I have ever seen. Yes that’s right. I’m not sure quite what that means exactly, do you trust my opinion? Well if you do, take it. Oh and that’s not to say the other actress’ aren’t good - believe me, they are. In fact Sally Mortemore - ‘Nelly’ - has been nominated for an Offie for her troubles, not forgetting she’s that good even after stepping in last minute and learning her lines from show to show, sometimes with script in hand. Yep.
I liked it that much that after the curtain call I went on the stage and looked at everything: the postcards on the wall, the ration books on the shelves, the art and clothes and nicknacks - I couldn’t leave it alone until I’d taken every little bit of it in.
I feel like I’ve been quite vague about the production here, but that may be because it felt like an entity in which so much happens. Births, deaths, life, love, murder trials, marriages, double crossing, giving, taking, friends and foes, happiness and sadness, ying and yang. It has everything a good piece of theatre should have, and then some, because the cast do it such justice that I could watch it over and over just to pick up on the things I missed out on the first time, you know?
Emma Spearing, a very good friend of mine from drama school, beautiful woman and actress invited me to the show (she’s in it, of course) and I went along, not knowing what it would be like (theatre at The White Bear? It’s anyone’s guess), but it did that thing that all theatre should do. It took me to a time and a place and made me feel emotions. Real ones. It’s not very often theatre does that, not really. I’m a bit of a theatrical sourpuss, come to think of it. I say we start a petition to move it to the West End immediately. Who’s in?
(The show is running until the 20th October and is returning in January for a second spin).