Blue Stockings at Yard Theatre
Another gem from the National Youth Theatre. This take on Jessica Swale’s debut play, Blue Stocking, is a thoroughly well-performed, entertaining and thought-provoking piece.
Set at a women’s college at Cambridge University in 1897, four young women make waves in the almost male-only world of higher education. At that time, while a few women were allowed to attend lectures and sit exams, they were not allowed to earn a degree, no matter how good they were. Blue Stockings tells of these women fighting for their right graduate.
Despite being set over 100 years ago, the story of gender equality is still relevant today and the story feels like it is taking place in a more recent time. That makes for a very engaging play. But it offers so much more than an important message. It’s fantastically witty throughout, tense at times and heart-breaking in others. It’s genuinely a joy to watch.
Alice Knight has directed a brilliant production; everything from the performances to the background projections is flawless and meaningful. The cast are phenomenal, even more so considering how young they are. Leo Flanagan as Mr Banks couldn’t have been more believable as the eccentric science teacher. And Maxwell Hayes, James Walsh and Samuel Creasey make a great trio of male students set in their old-fashioned, misogynistic beliefs.
But, as is expected, it’s the women of the show who really shine. Particularly Mischa Jones as the wonderfully passionate student and Amy parker as the no less passionate – but significantly more pragmatic – Elizabeth Welsh.
The production makes clever and creative use of projections. By simply using an old overhead projector, moving backgrounds and information and meaning are poured onto the stage throughout scenes. Right now, the National Youth Theatre are at their best and any chance to see one of their shows should probably be taken. And Blue Stockings is certainly a brilliant addition to their season: a great, and important story, performed by a strong cast.
Blue Stockings is at Yard Theatre from 15th until 19th August 2017. For further information or to book visit their website here.