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

Victoria Drum Fest continues to attract topnotch international talent

Festival founder Murray Creed expects 10th anniversary event May 26 will be the best yet

MATHIEU POIRIER: New Island brewery tour book a great resource for beer fans

Learn some of the background of local breweries in Island Craft, by Jon C. Stott

Choir offers a capella take on Beatles hits

Soundings will perform concerts in Oak Bay and Sidney May 24 and 25

Canadiana complete when Murray McLauchlan’s in the house

Legendary singer/songwriter brings his folksy talents to the McPherson on June 13

Van Isle Comic Con swings into Sidney in June

Convention lists animators, actors as guests, variety of cosplay prizes to be won

VIDEO: Royal BC Museum unveiling rare artifacts in upcoming Maya exhibit

La Corona Altar 5 depicts story of king and dynasties

Special Report: Front line work by caring emergency doctors

Dr. Jason Wale uses unique program to help people with addictions in Greater Victoria

Action on climate change a moral commitment: author

Dahr Jamail to speak in Sooke on June 4

Put your love of reading to good use June 1

Bolen Books hosting Summer Readathon to help the Victoria Literacy Connection

Opioid Crisis Special Report: Hidden demographic served by West Shore clinic

AIDS Vancouver Island-run clinic provides opioid agonist treatment to almost 200 people

Most Read