Just to Get Married at Finborough Theatre
Written by suffragette Cicely Hamilton and last produced in the UK in 1918, the remarkable feminist production Just to Get Married at Finborough Theatre, directed by Melissa Dunne, is timeless in its presentation of the painful ramifications of gender inequality. It invites the question: One hundred years later, how far have we come in terms of social parity for women?
With three acts, the piece opens with a comedy of manners in which Georgiana Vicary (Philippa Quinn), a 29-year-old woman with no financial means and no skills – and supported by the generosity of her aunt, Lady Catherine Grayle (Nicola Blackman) – is under tremendous pressure to marry as her only way to escape the disgrace of impoverished spinsterhood. A burden to her benefactors, her last chance to find a worthy husband presents itself in the form of Adam Lankester (Jonny McPherson), a charming but hapless man with considerable wealth whom she beguiles with the intention of receiving a marriage proposal. After succeeding with her ploy, however, in acts two and three Georgiana is miserable and wracked with guilt as she rails against her fate of being forced into a loveless union and having to pretend to care for a good man who is besotted with her. Much to the outrage of her family and social entourage, she calls off the wedding and escapes, intending to join her independent artist friend in London and make her way on her own.
The acting in this production is superb. Philippa Quinn’s first-rate performance as Georgiana is particularly inspiring and believable. Her raw conflicted emotion is palpable. McPherson plays Lankester with exceptional depth and subtlety, and Blackman as the authoritarian Lady Catherine is a powerhouse. With delicate and elegant period decor, the set is well conceived, especially intimate and effective on Finborough Theatre’s very small stage.
Just to Get Married may be about mores of another era, but the dilemma presented is still relevant. Georgina bemoans her lack of autonomy and purpose in life. Although we are now far better off, we still have fewer choices and freedoms than men. Early feminists, the Suffragettes fought for women’s right to vote. Writer Cicely Hamilton sought birth control and equal pay and was against marriage as a requirement. Thus this play is not only thoroughly entertaining and well executed, it provides an important historical perspective on vital issues that have continuing significance.
Photo: Tonje Olaussen
Just to Get Married is at Finborough Theatre from 25th July until 19th August 2017. For further information or to book visit here.