Votes for Women at theSpace Triplex deals, not surprisingly, with the story of Emmeline Pankhurst. However, this play focuses on her relationship with her husband, Richard Pankhurst, and what brought the two of them together. Young Emmeline Goulden, born in 1858 in Manchester, attended her first political meeting with her mother at the age of 14. Six years later, at another meeting, she met Richard Pankhurst, a barrister who was passionate about women’s property rights. Despite the substantial age difference between them, and despite Emmeline’s dislike of the institution of marriage and not wanting to become the property of a husband, preferring the thought of a “free union”, they were married in December 1879.
The play tells of Emmeline’s fight for votes for women, wanting them to have equal rights with men, and using “deeds not words” to get herself and her fellow suffragists noticed. The story of the struggle is well known and well documented, but there were many aspects of this story that I wasn’t previously aware of.
Emmeline (played by Emilie Maybank) and Richard (played by Jan Van Der Black, who wrote the play, and who also takes on several other roles in the story) are portrayed as a strong couple who greatly supported each other’s causes, although Emmeline’s life did have to change considerably after Richard’s death.
Votes for women did of course become reality in 1918, when certain women over the age of 30 were given the right to vote. This was extended to give women the same rights as men over 21 in 1928, but sadly, however, Emmeline had died just a few weeks before this.
A well-acted play which should be compulsory viewing for any young women (and men) who aren’t aware of what their predecessors went through to get the right to vote.
Votes for Women!
Country: United Kingdom - England
Group: Polymorph Theatre
Review by Lisa Sibbald