Floating down from Scotland, the Gilded Balloon, one of Edinburgh Fringe’s biggest venues, has brought a show of such magnitude onto its unsuspecting Brighton audiences that the gauntlet has well and truly been laid down.

the way in which their stories were told, from being in the moment to projecting their inner monologues, it was captivating to behold and they didn’t leave any details untold

Here to provide a southern host, Rialto Theatre has become the home place of Echoes, a story of two British women who are seemingly worlds apart but who share an unfortunate series of events. The acting was faultless, the two women carried their parts well and their impressions of absent characters were both accurate and amusing at the same time.

There were no props or costumes changes but the way in which their stories were told, from being in the moment to projecting their inner monologues, it was captivating to behold and they didn’t leave any details untold.

Born 175 years apart, the show tells the tragic events that shaped these women’s lives. From boldly asserting their independence and freedom of choice, to having to face the ultimate consequences of their actions. The Victorian Bluestocking and the Jihadi teenager have a lot more in common than you would think.

Both women followed the dream of a better life through choosing to marry into an ideology abroad, the Bluestocking a Christian missionary and the teenager joining Isis in Syria. A tough tale to tell without resorting to Daily Mail-style stereotypes, it gave an honest account of the girls’ experience of submission and subordination, trapped in a countries where they thought they’d finally belong.

The only drawback of note was that the piece didn’t quite linger enough on the grooming or coercing that would make a young woman want to travel to such a hostile environment. It was hinted at throughout in the retrospective of regret but I think it would have given the audience more sympathy for the characters earlier on, rather than thinking they brought it on themselves. We all realise that both characters were tricked by their 'free will' and the promise of a better life far away but it would have been more interesting to take this journey with them.

Its clever historical comparison and well-acted performances will ensure this show gets the audience numbers it deserves and confronting such subject matter from the eyes of the women themselves made it both compelling and thought provoking. However, on an unfortunate end note, it would seem that the lesson for women learned is that no matter what period of time you find yourself in, never trust your own decisions and venture out of your familiar surroundings because no good will come of it. 

Reviews by Bethan Troakes

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Brighton Spiegeltent



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The Blurb

A tale of two British women born 175 years apart. One is 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.

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