Greater Expectations was an exciting play to attend. The piece, consisting of four small fifteen minute vignettes, was highly comedic and topical. Tuppence Films, founded by Maude Hirst and Sophia Jackson, both of whom are involved in Greater Expectations themselves, attempts to create a ‘stronger voice for women in film, TV and theatre’ by challenging ‘preconceptions and expectations while exploring sometimes difficult and unusual subject matter.’ All four pieces were written by women, and while not all of them focused on women's or feminist issues so to speak, the work does well in attempting to further the aims of the company.
The four vignettes created a great range in their considerations.
The four vignettes created a great range in their considerations. The personal sphere is foregrounded in ‘Are you there though?’ while the political is central to ‘The Unfree’, the latter a piece which considers women’s prison and juvenile delinquency in younger girls. ‘Battles Lines’ is a supremely funny performance, yet feels the constraints of its 15 minute time slot the most obviously. The characters are a touch contrived and predictable, yet the acting and comic timing delivered by Kylie Babington and Jessica Boshier prevents its fall below the high standard shared by all the pieces.
The most outstanding performance is given by Natalie Bridge. She moulds her obvious acting talent toward a portrayal of a kindly university graduate Lauren in the taut ‘The day Iain Duncan Smith came round for a brew’ where she is entirely authentic and comically tight, with the confident help of Ellie Dickens. Her portrayal of a troubled young woman in ‘The Unfree’ again displays her raw ability to convey a powerful performance even within the constraints of a 15 minute performance.
In support of my praise for Natalie Bridge, each actor gives a commendable performance. I was a bit upset to lose some of the dialogue from the first piece as the accompanying music was, in my opinion, too loud for the venue and the actors seemed a bit drowned out, but this was only a temporary problem which the audience did not encounter again.
This collection of pieces was topical, current and genuine. In ‘The Unfree’, these deeply British socio-political issues were combined with the personal creating an urgent and emotional work. Greater Expectations is highly recommended, and with the help of some polishing in terms of the production, it will no doubt will be a first rate show.