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.

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Chelsey Moore’s character Chloe in the upcoming virtual reality game Altdeus: Beyond Chronos. Screengrab
Vancouver Island actress finds success in a virtual world

Black Creek’s Chelsey Moore lends her voice to a new video game set for release in December

Ceramic artist Darrel Hancock working on a clay jug in his home studio in Qualicum Beach. (Submitted photo)
Qualicum Beach potter Darrel Hancock celebrates 40 years in business

‘It’s wonderful to do what you love and make a living at it’

Artist Daniel Cline discusses his sculpture, Harmony Humpbacks, during the June 20 walking tour of Oak Bay’s 2019 ArtsAlive sculptures. Harmony Humpbacks was purchased by Oak Bay as the 2019 people’s choice winner and is permanently installed at the Beach Drive entrance to Willows Park. (Kevin Murdoch Photo)
Influx of donated art a ‘fantastic problem to have,’ says Oak Bay mayor

Oak Bay goes from zero to 10 permanent art pieces since 2015

Dover Bay Secondary School student Victoria Hathfield’s poem <em>Dear Santa</em> appears in<em> Chicken Soup for the Soul: Christmas is in the Air</em>. (Photo courtesy Darren Lee)
Nanaimo high schooler has first poem published in ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’

Victoria Hathfield’s ‘Dear Santa’ appears in new Christmas-themed edition of anthology series

Nanaimo graphic designer Amy Pye has written and illustrated her first children’s book, <em>G is for Grizzly Bear: A Canadian Alphabet</em>. (Photo courtesy Amy Pye)
Nanaimo graphic designer releases first children’s book

Amy Pye teaches the Canadian alphabet in ‘G is for Grizzly Bear’

The Vancouver Island Symphony’s Back Row Brass Quintet – including trumpeter Mark D’Angelo, tuba player Nick Atkinson and French horn player Karen Hough (from left) – were scheduled to tour the Nanaimo area with Christmas Under the Big Tent, but the concert series has now been cancelled. (Photo courtesy HA Photography)
Symphony brass quintet’s Christmas concert series cancelled

Performances were to happen at venues in Parksville and Lantzville next month

The Sheringham Point Lighthouse, near Shirley. (Contributed - Lee-Ann Ruttan)
New book shines a light on Sheringham Point Lighthouse

Publication examines history, lightkeepers, and volunteer society

Victoria-based guitarist Eric Harper performs at the Port Theatre on Nov. 27. (Photo credit Tatum Duryba)
Classical guitarist to play at the Port Theatre

Eric Harper to play new songs composed during the pandemic

A sample of some of Lou-ann Neel’s jewelry.
Lou-ann Neel wins the Fulmer Award in First Nations Art

Originally from Alert Bay, Neel’s family is steeped in renowned Kwakwaka’wakw artists

I-Hos Gallery manager Ramona Johnson shows some of the paddles available at the retail outlet. Photo by Terry Farrell
I-Hos Gallery celebrates 25 years of promoting First Nation artwork

K’ómoks First Nation-based outlet has art from all over the country

Most Read