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Bloody Difficult Women at Riverside Studios | Review

Gina Miller takes on Theresa May in this political thriller just like we remember her doing five years ago. With fictional insights (writer) takes us through both sides of the case that shone a light on many ugly truths about politics in this country.

Bloody Difficult Women - Riverside Studios - Photo Mark Senior.
Bloody Difficult Women – Riverside Studios – Photo Mark Senior.

The Gina Miller case is unpleasant pretty much however you want to spin it. Granted, it showed a woman of colour sticking up to a government that thought it could do as it pleased, but aside from that, it brought out the worst in our nation. It unveiled the Tories as a party that thinks it can do what it wants; the vicious sexist, racist online rhetoric that responded to Miller and it was a gruesome demonstration of the disgusting practices of the tabloid papers.

Tim Walker’s script touches on these, and while large parts of the show are taken up discussing the media, it spends far more time focusing on the caricatures of politics rather than exploring with nuance the impact of such figures.

The plot of the play is straightforward, we see from start to finish the Gina Miller case made against then Prime Minister Theresa May over the unlawful attempted passing of Article 50.

Gina Miller is performed with conviction and eloquence by Amara Karan. We meet the big names, Andrew Woodall as Paul Dacre effs and blinds his way through the play in an amusingly ridiculous hate-fuelled crusade, Theresa May (Jessica Turner) is portrayed in a strangely sympathetic light but performed with the right amount of accuracy that it does not become an impression and maintains character. The supporting cast is a strong ensemble, offering the audience more personal routes through the high profile story.

I am unfortunately left wondering what the play was for. This sounds harsher than intended, but I cannot work out what the motivations behind a play are. Berthold Brecht said that ‘Art is not a mirror help up to reality but a hammer with which to shape it‘, and I think Bloody Difficult Women makes the mistake of doing the former more than the latter. It is strange for a political play to lack clear political umph. That being said the obvious political point is that reflecting on the experience women have in politics is necessary and one that we do not do enough. However, I think this was an important opportunity for Gina Miller’s story to be told by a woman, and that was not done.

Theresa May gets a strangely positive portrayal in this, the fairly happy ending does not sit right with me. While May, as a woman in a political system built, run and dominated by men undeniably had a brutal run of it, Windrush and the ‘hostile environment policy make May a deeply unsympathetic character.

In the end, this is an engaging watch, but I did not feel I gained much nuance or insight from watching this that I had not already read in the papers at the time.

2 gold stars

Review by Tom Carter

Tim Walker’s brand-new drama sees the tumultuous political events of recent years played out in a power struggle between two determined women.

His intensely human account of the court case Mrs Miller brought against Mrs May makes for revealing and often very funny theatre, but ultimately it’s a tragedy, where there are no winners, only losers.

Walker brings the story bang up to date in a dramatic finale which says so much about the deep divisions we still have in our country.

Wind of Change
in association with Cahoots Theatre Company
The world première of
By Tim Walker

COMPANY: Wind of Change in association with Cahoots Theatre Company
Director: Stephen Unwin; Designer: Nicky Shaw; Lighting Designer: David Howe; Sound Designer: John Leonard
CAST: Calum Finlay, Amara Karan, Edmund Kingsley, Graham Seed, Jessica Turner and Andrew Woodall

On: Tuesday 1 March 7.30pm
At: Riverside Studios
101 Queen Caroline St, London W6 9BN


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