REVIEW - Birmingham Ormiston Academy's Blue Stockings was a sight to behold - The Bromsgrove Standard

REVIEW - Birmingham Ormiston Academy's Blue Stockings was a sight to behold

Bromsgrove Editorial 6th May, 2023   0

I ALWAYS enjoy reviewing Birmingham Ormiston Academy (BOA) productions.

As a company they share a unique bond and as individuals they exude that raw energy reserved for fledglings one step from becoming professional actors.

Blue Stockings by Jessica Swale has become a classic piece of feminist theatre over the past decade and a favourite for drama students because of its large cast and gritty characters. Swale developed it through improvisation and workshops over two years at the National Theatre and RADA and it premiered at the Shakespeare Globe in August 2013.

It is set in 1896 at Girton College Cambridge, back when the title ‘Blue Stockings’ became a derogatory term for female intellectuals.

The plot concerns four very talented female undergraduates and their campaign to be allowed – like their male colleagues – to receive a formal degree qualification at the end of their studies.

The Girton Girls are Tess Moffat played with an infectious excitement by Lydia White – the bohemian Carolyn Addison, a sassy portrayal from Elise Barrett, Celia Willbound played with well-tempered fragility by Lily Rose-Farmer and the mystery shrouded Maeve Sullivan perfectly captured by Millie Hall.

Tobias Martin-Clarke shines as Tess’s chum Will Bennett, an undergraduate from Kings College.

Giving boisterous portrayals as Trinity College undergraduates are Erin Power as Holmes, Cameron Bains as Ralph Mayhew, Oliver Benbow as Lloyd and Ben Humphreys as Edwards.

Georgia Sherrad is passionate and powerful as Mrs Welsh, the head of Girton who makes the difficult decisions with a heavy heart.

Japheth Johnson is an engaging as an ardent campaigner for the women as their male lecturer and Elen Thurston makes much of her role as their moral science lecturer Miss Blake.

Ruby Worthington makes the most of her comedic moments as the women’s chaperone.

Teddy Kwabena Kankam makes for an ardent misogynistic academic in his ‘take no prisoners’ portrayal of Doctor Maudsley.

Finlay Carter plays Professor Radleigh with a superior sneer and Sam Griffin puts in a sour face as Billy Sullivan, Maeve’s brother

Director James Lees always adds his own physical theatre backstory but excels himself here in Blue Stockings with a mini ballet going on.

There’s fighting, frolicking, anger and horridness against a soundtrack like something from Peaky Blinders.

The overall pace of the show never faltered and the diction the best executed I’ve heard at BOA.

Wardrobe was spot on as was the period hairstyles and make up.

As always, there will be actors here destined to become names that will grace our stages and screens in the years ahead – congratulations and good luck to every BOA Blue Stocking.

Review by Euan Rose

Euan Rose Reviews

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