Out of Our Father's House

The self-empowerment of interesting American women from history is a dramatic premise that instantly arrests your attention. Unfortunately, Red Compass’ production, in every sense, fails to captivate.

Telling women’s stories is, of course, a more-than-worthy premise, as is the aim to create more opportunities for women on- and offstage, but this production is a disappointment.

As six women, ranging from an unconventional astronomer to a preaching minister, tell their stories, the hypocrisies of patriarchy are evident. “If only you were born a boy,” is a phrase repeated and instilled, as proto-feminism struggles to assert itself. While Out of our Father’s House does succeed in hammering women’s injustices home, it is done with little imagination.

Delivered in a rotating monologue format, Out of our Father’s House is not engaging enough to do justice to the real-life women it characterises. While allowing each woman to speak at length does fit the very goal 20th Century feminism was pursuing, the format ultimately proves predictable and boring.

While the performers themselves are seamless in their movements, the script’s narrative feels disorganised. Time shifts from 17th to 20th Century with few markers to suggest temporal development and as the cast continue to multi-role, the characters themselves – the women we are asked to empathise with and understand – become increasingly and frustratingly vague.

Solid vocal arrangements and believable accents make up, somewhat, for the lack of dialogue. During its most visual sequences specifically, the production peaks. As a woman minister faces the threat of capture from her carriage driver on route to preach, the other three cast members form to create an intimidating hooded figure behind her – a compelling moment. Unfortunately however, such moments were few and far between.

Telling women’s stories is, of course, a more-than-worthy premise, as is the aim to create more opportunities for women on- and offstage, but this production is a disappointment.  

Reviews by Sarah Gough

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Performances

Location

The Blurb

An astronomer. A labour organiser. A minister. A doctor. A woman from the Jewish ghetto. The founder of the women's suffrage movement. Challenged as they grow up, pressured to marry, and ostracized for wanting careers. Follow six iconic American women through memoirs, diaries, and letters. America's story retold by its women. The play is about the human struggle for freedom from stereotypes and the establishment of self-worth. Featuring an all­-female cast, female director, and female producer. Supporting opportunities for women in the arts and bringing the stories of American women to the stage. www.ineswurth.com/la2edinburgh