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Review of Princess Suffragette at the Vault Festival

Princess SuffragetteNearly 100 years ago, women fought in this country to make their voices heard for the right to vote. Now, as the 70th anniversary of India and Pakistan’s independence from the British rule arrives, it is the perfect opportunity to celebrate a great leader in the women’s Suffrage Movement—Princess Sophia Duleep Singh.

Princess Suffragette re-tells the story of Princess Singh, a young Indian woman born in royalty under the British aristocracy. After a visit to her father’s Indian Kingdom, Princess Singh begins to put effort into greater causes and movements against British Imperialism and for women’s Suffrage. This play written by Subika Anwar-Khan is an intriguing narrative about the risks and challenges of feminism during the early Suffrage Movement.

This play depicts the moments in history between the British rulings over the Indian Kingdom. Director and dramaturg Charlie Ely, gathered a vast amount of stories about Princess Singh’s history that explains the risks she took to be a part of major rights movements. The direction of showing snapshots of Princess Singh’s history
with flashbacks was an immersive and engaging choice. This play had four amazing performers: Jessica Andrade, Navinder Bhatti, Avita Jay and Megan McKie-Smith.

Not only were they versatile in character choices but they also embraced each character uniquely simply with a change of voice or added piece of clothing. At times it was confusing because so many characters were introduced that it would have been nice to have had a guide in the program. Even so, the play was beautifully written.

With a simple set consisting of a desk, a couple of chairs and a small bookshelf – there was something very unique to it. In the middle of the back wall hung an elegant clock that indicated the year. As useful as the clock was stating the year, there were moments the year didn’t change right away which become confusing. Knowing the year of each scene really helped create a good understanding of the history, as well as the eccentric Asian-infused music that resounded throughout the play.

During a time when feminism continues to push for equality between men and women, it is also a time for minorities to make their voices heard. The Princess Suffragette reminds us that Princess Singh fought for her rights against British Imperialist power and that now, it is our time to continue her work.

4 stars

Review by Aly Chromy

A contemporary (re)telling of Princess Sophia Duleep Singh’s journey, from her aristocratic upbringing as the daughter of an exiled Maharajah, to her political awakening as the first British-Asian Suffragette.

Raised within the British aristocracy to be the perfect Princess, Sophia Duleep Singh has a charmed childhood, tinged with tragedy. When she finally visits her father’s former Indian Kingdom as a young woman, she gains a new awareness of her past and circumstances, questions her identity and shifts her energy towards much worthier causes, campaigning both against British Imperialism and for women’s Suffrage.

Princess Suffragette is an inventive new play about identity, risk and heart, that twists our notions of feminism and explores defining moments of British and Indian history, through the eyes of an extraordinary woman at the centre of it all. This true story is brought to life by versatile performers, bold imagery, and an eclectic soundtrack of modern Asian-fusion music.

The play is premiering in 2017, to honour roughly 100 years since the Suffragette movement and the 70th anniversary of both India and Pakistan’s independence.

London Grey & Green Theatre Company presents
Princess Suffragette
a new play by Subika Anwar-Khan
direction and dramaturgy by Charlie Ely

Listings Information
Dates: 22 – 26 February 2017
Times: 9.30pm (1 hour)
VAULT Festival 2017, The Vaults, Leake Street, London, SE1 7NN

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