The Brides of Bluebeard at the Camden People’s Theatre
The Ruby Dolls bring to life The Brides of Bluebeard at the Camden People’s Theatre in North London. This marvellous four-woman ensemble reimagine the uncanny French folktale as a witty 75-minute-long musical permeated with contemporary feminist thought.
With minimal decor, the only thing truly required are four microphones, and the actresses’ storytelling is indeed so visionary that the show needs no further fineries. The Ruby Dolls themselves, however, are dressed in traditionally white bridal gowns that uniquely depict a specific period in history, with the four seemingly doomed brides acting and speaking as was fitting for a woman of those times.The brides have one thing in common though: the man they marry.
He is sardonically called The Bear, a particularly grotesque and hairy male specimen, and his voice is provided by the director, who is essentially the divine voice of the performing arts and thus behaves accordingly. To demonstrate his diminishing attitude towards women, he refers to them as “pussy”. The Bear functions as a patriarchal figure, and his wives depict feminism (or the entire lack thereof) throughout time.
The women’s’ unique stories reflect this evolution: the first wife abandons a promising career on the Bühne for marriage; the second wife chooses to exist solely for a man as his bride, mistress or widow; and the third wife is a rebellious hippie, abhorring the practice of making a woman into a man’s property. The fourth wife, however, is convinced of the equality between the sexes, satisfies her own needs like a man, and is unbiased in her opinions.
When The Bear needs to attend to some important business during their honeymoon, he gives the women the keys to his castle with the warning that they must not enter a special room of his. The first three wives respond similarly to his request but it is the fourth one, the so-called modern woman, who is different in accepting her fate. She actively refuses to be ruled by his will and fights to gain her freedom.
The Brides of Bluebeard can be interpreted as portraying progressive feminism, with the fourth wife defeating The Bear, or rather patriarchy’s harmful practices by indicating that a damsel in distress is fully capable of rescuing herself.
The Brides of Bluebeard was at the Camden People’s Theatre on 24th – 25th September, it’s currently touring and will be in London 29th – 30th September at Shoreditch Town Hall and on 22nd October at St James Theatre. For further information or to book visit here.