Musical review: Rouse Ye Women
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Rouse Ye Women at C aquila (Venue 21), reviewed by Joyce McMillan
In the world of the arts, the sight of women bashing metal has become more familiar in recent years, with the rise of SheBoom-style women’s drumming bands.
It’s unusual, though, to see those rhythms used to such powerful dramatic effect as they are in this intense 45-minute cycle of songs and percussion inspired by the story of a strike by women chain-makers in the Black Country, a century ago.
As the show begins, performer and co-writer Victoria Bourne appears on a stage surrounded by simple work benches, exquisitely lit by Santiago Martinez.
She is wearing a simple Edwardian work-dress, her hair drawn back, as she quietly prepares for the day; then she is joined by the five other cast members, as they begin to haul pieces of chain and big metal bins, to hammer and chafe, until the music reaches a crescendo of industrial sound and rhythm, and begins to open out into the first song, Slaves To The Forge.
In the end this show, by the And Then We Danced company of Bristol and co-writer Chris Harper, seems more like a brief introduction to the women’s story, than a full account of it; the characters barely emerge from the group, and the evocation of their industrial struggle – choreographed by Anna Croxson – is fleeting, rather than profound. Yet Rouse Ye Women deals with a vital story with strong contemporary resonances, and does it with great integrity and beauty, in a theatrical style full of potential; even if that potential is not fully realised, in this powerful fragment of their work.
MORE INFO: Rouse Ye Women at C aquila (Venue 21),until 17 August.
Originally published in The Scotsman