Echoes by Henry Naylor

Two women on a stage: one in a black gown, one in a white gown; a modern day schoolgirl jihadi and a Victorian intellectual. Why have they been put together? At first, it seems arbitrary – but as the story unfolds and the connections between them become clear, I start to think that Henry Naylor might be a bit of a genius.

This is a clever and subtly nuanced piece that examines the plight of women across time, through the lenses of sexual inequality, religious duty and betrayal.

First, let’s talk about the writing – easily the most impressive element of this piece. Naylor uses language in an exquisite way, which always feels natural in the character’s mouth. Some feat. The writing is evocative and full of imagery, yet sparse enough not to overload us and give us enough time to comprehend the storylines.

The two actors, Felicity Houlbrooke and Filipa Braganca are utterly compelling in their delivery. I instantly care about their stories, which are told with verve and sensitivity. Although they each take it in turn to tell their individual stories, some subtle staging and cleverly synchronised movement serve to highlight their solidarity.

Though these two women are separated by some 175 years, their experiences are remarkably similar. Both get caught up with violent husbands; both fight to do the right thing and end up suffering for it; both are aware of their status as women and try to do their duty, but simply cannot stand by and turn a blind eye to the terrible injustices of their times. The parallels between them add a depth to the play that the stories would not have been able to achieve on their own, and make it that much more devastating.

This is a clever and subtly nuanced piece that examines the plight of women across time, through the lenses of sexual inequality, religious duty and betrayal. 

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The Blurb

A tale of two British women, born 175 years apart. One’s a schoolgirl jihadi; the other a Victorian bluestocking. Both travel to the East to build Empires; both meet tragedy in blood-soaked lands. Timely drama, by lead Spitting Image writer Henry Naylor. His last play, The Collector won the Fringe First, and got nine four- or five- star reviews – including: ***** (Scotsgay), **** (Scotsman), ***** (ExeuntMagazine.com), **** (Metro), ***** ‘Fringe theatre isn’t just about performing on a budget; it’s an opportunity to present new, concise and thought-provoking works. Few are as stirring as this’ (TheGizzleMagazine.com).

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