Gut Girls – a Major Force at the Phoenix

Monday Magazine's Theatre Critic reviews the premier of Gut Girls

The acting is up to the Phoenix’s usual high standard; the costumes are authentic for the time period and for the class of people being portrayed; the scene changes are efficiently done.  So, if there is any weakness in Gut Girls, we must lay it at the feet of the playwright.

Sarah Daniels has written another play which demonstrates how women are victims, and here she rather belabours the point.  At the end of two and a half hours  I and my companion felt exhausted.  I do prefer to see a play which challenges me to draw my own conclusions about injustice or inequality.  At the Phoenix on opening night, it was as if the unfairness of life is a bit too heavily emphasized.

The five main characters are young women employed in the notorious meat sheds in Victorian London.  They are rough and rude, and they stand up for themselves, not actually taking any guff from their male employers or supervisors.  They are also quite well paid for the gruesome work they do.  So they are independent and at some level quite happy.

Enter a lady of quality, a do-gooder who is appalled at the conditions under which these girls work.  Her mistake is in trying to change the protagonists, instead of trying to better their working conditions. So she sets up a system to turn them onto housemaids, and the lack of success of this venture is spectacular.

Add to this the ‘gentleman’ who is a total lout in the way he treats his wife, and a Lord who might well be the same if he could persuade the lady in question into marriage, and you have a depressing play which puts itself squarely and loudly in the faces of the audience.

However, there is humour here, in the down-to-earth attitudes of the gut girls; since the topic is meat, some mileage is made from references to sausage skins. And there is compassion from unexpected sources. These are the redeeming features of this compelling, if lengthy production.

Well-directed in the theatre-in-the-round, the action is continuous; characters enter and exit via all the various spots surrounding the stage, with some quick changes of costume and/or mood – seamless and well-done.

Gut Girls is on until February 18.  Call the box office, from noon to 8:00 pm at 250-721-8000.

 

Just Posted

Bill Gaston, Monique Gray Smith capture Victoria Book Prizes for 2018

Butler Book Prize and Bolen Books Children’s Book Prize winners collect $5,000 each

Canada’s country music sweetheart brings The Gumboot Kids to town

Jessie Farrell to perform songs from her hit CBC TV series at McTavish Academy of Arts

VIFF wrap-up: Finely crafted films part of festival finale

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells puts a cap on his 2018 Vancouver International Film Festival experience

FILM REVIEWS: Race relations, refugees and racy romances featured at VIFF

Monday reviewer Kyle Wells presents round 2 from the Vancouver International Film Fest

An eye for art: The new and the notable at fall’s premier arts event

Sidney Fine Art Show shares wealth of Island talent Oct. 11 to 13

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

WATCH: Twelve Angry Jurors puts a new spin on an old tale

Canadian College of Performing Arts opens season with reworked version of Reginald Rose teleplay

INDY FILM FARE: 1970s hedonism and more at The Vic Theatre

From Studio 54 to Rocky Horror, there’s plenty of excess to observe this month

Shark-attack metal band coming to Victoria tonight

Shark Infested Daughters, a Calgary metalcore group, play the Upstairs Cabaret tonight, Oct. 13

STAGE AND SONG: Spotlight on Victoria arts groups

Learn about some of the city’s favourite theatre and musical entertainment options

Island lensman Jim Decker lands three top photography awards

During exciting photo trip to Yap in Micronesia, Cobble Hill man earns trio of firsts

Celebrate Oktoberfest Stein and Dine at the Victoria Public Market

Food, suds and German-style fun on tap at Oct. 20 event

Most Read