Emilia transferred from the Shakespeare’s Globe, bringing the story of ‘The Dark Lady’ to the Vaudeville Theatre, Strand, London, WC2R 0NH. If any production is going to awaken the “feminist movement”, bring the injustices men have done to women over the ages to our attention then it is Emilia; played by three actresses each at different stages in Emilia’s life; Saffron Coomber is young Emilia who comes of age as she deals with the death of her parents, Adelle Leonce plays the wiser Emilia who now knows the pains of women and Clare Perkins is the older Emilia who now recounts the pains of her life.
This production has an all-female cast and creative team, an interesting twist on the Shakespearean times when male actors dominated the stage. Women were not allowed on the stage during the Elizabethan era, until 1660 – it was seen as unseemly for a woman to undertake such a role so young boys were hired to play female roles. This production is based upon: “400 years ago poet Emilia Bassano wanted her voice to be heard. It wasn’t. Could she have been the “Dark Lady” of Shakespeare’s sonnets? What of her own poems? Why was her story erased from history? Some say she is one of the first feminist writers. Emilia and her sisters reach out to us across the centuries with passion, fury, laughter and song.”
Writer Morgan Lloyd Malcolm uses Emilia to voice the struggles all women face and have faced. It sounds very serious it is but Lloyd Malcolm knows how to drive the message in with humour and bold writing. Director Nicole Charles has a big diverse cast across ethnicity and casting two actors (Nadia Albina and Sophie Stone) with disabilities who are not confined to playing disabled people.
All round great performances, Clare Perkin’s Emilia solidifies this powerful all-punching play with her final speech, in the last act. This play celebrates female voices through the story of the trailblazing, forgotten woman, Emilia. Perkins as usual delivers, a well spent 2 hours and 30-minutes, go for the laughter, for the message and for the performance. Buy tickets here.
#WeareEmilia until Saturday 1 June 2019