One of the outstanding performances in last year’s Fringe for me was Joanne Hartstone in “The Girl Who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign”, so when I saw that Joanne was returning this year with “That Daring Australian Girl”, it was a must-see in my Fringe diary.
Telling the true story of Australian Muriel Matters, this was a powerful performance from Joanne Hartstone. Muriel Matters, born in Adelaide in 1877, was given “a good English education” studied music and trained as an elocutionist, but then went against her family’s wishes and chose a life on the stage. Whilst working in Sydney, she heard that there were wonderful opportunities in London, and travelled over to England on a £19 passage. After arriving in London, she took on some work as a journalist to supplement her income from recitals, and met and interviewed George Bernard Shaw, which introduced her to a new circle of free-thinking people. Muriel attended a meeting of the women’s suffrage movement and then joined the Women’s Freedom League, bringing her thoughts and experience as “an enfranchised Australian”. She went on to become a major figure in the WFL, her activities leading to many adventures and misadventures, including her being arrested, imprisoned and placed in solitary confinement.
The story of Muriel Matters is a fascinating and important one, and Joanne Hartstone has the necessary acting ability and stage presence to bring her to life with great empathy, depths of emotion, and touches of humour.
This show lived up to, and indeed exceeded all my expectations, and wholly deserved the standing ovation at the end – a rare occurrence at a Fringe show. If you’re still deciding what theatre performances to see this year, put That Daring Australian Girl on your list (and The Girl Who Jumped off the Hollywood Sign is back this year too, so add that as well).
Review by Lisa Sibbald
That Daring Australian Girl
Assembly George Square Studios - Two
Aug 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 15, 17, 19, 21, 23, 25, 27
1 hour 10 minutes