Friday, January 19, 2018

Review of Babes With Blades Theatre Company's The Good Fight

Once upon a time I went to a show and it was called The Good Fight. It was by Anne Bertram and it was directed by Elizabeth Lovelady. It was about the suffragettes in Great Britain in the early 1900s, trying to find new ways to protest so women can get the vote. They are experimenting with bombs and jiu jitsu, as well as spreading the word through print and protests. Their first in command, Christabel Pankhurst (Alison Dornheggen) has fled to Paris because the police are after her. So they put Grace Roe (Arielle Leverett) in command in place of her and she is trying to get a handle on things when she has been a follower her whole life. Things are especially hard because one of their women, Emily Wilding Davison (Taylor Raye,) has some very dangerous ideas and the face of the movement, Emmeline Pankhurst (Jean Marie Koon), is deathly ill because she is on a hunger strike and is being force fed in prison. It's about feminism, how far is too far, and the right way to use violence. I think this was a fun way to learn about the suffragette movement, which I have been interested in for a long time. Of course they can't tell the entire story of feminism, but they showed a lot of interesting and true things about it.

I think that Emily is a very interesting character. I love her determination but she is a very sad person and I feel a lot for her. I wish I could see a prequel that was all about her. Her relationship with her mother is heartbreaking and when she talked about her experience with force feeding, it hurt me to hear it. The performer did a great job with the character. The way she dies is very tragic and elaborate. She is pushing the limits of what the suffragettes should do in protest. I think that violent protest is acceptable if the violence is set on you first. But you have to be careful that you aren't blowing up property just because it is property. It should be a place that is actually affecting the cause.

I found the jiu jitsu (fight choreography by Gaby Labotka) very interesting, and I hadn't realized that they had used it in protests. Edith Garrud (Dornheggen) taught them all jiu jitsu, at the suggestion of Hilda (C. Jaye Miller). And it was super cool to watch these women fight in long skirts and huge hats, and doing it like rockstars. The suffragettes are trying to figure out when it is right to use the jiu jitsu and that brings up a lot of interesting points. Their protests are not supposed to hurt anyone because, if they do, they are afraid that people won't support them. But they decide that jiu jitsu is valid if the police attack them for just protesting. It turns the violence against the police, so that the women aren't just being mercilessly beaten and there is nothing they can do about it. Early in the play you see this happen to Gertrude Harding (Scottie Caldwell) while she is trying to sell some papers. That scene is placed there so that you understand what is at stake here.

I think it is very interesting how everyone in this play, once the war starts, switches all of their energy to doing stuff for the war. The government tells them that they should help with the war otherwise they are going to look like jerks, to distract the women from trying to get the vote. Even though World War I didn't start so that suffragettes could be distracted, the government took advantage of that. Sometimes you do have to focus on what is threatening you right outside the door, but you have to be careful not to abandon the cause that you have been fighting for.

People who would like this show are people who like jiu jitsu, votes for women, and big hats. I think this show asks a lot of interesting questions. I thought it had really good fights and some very talented actors. I liked it.

Photos: Joe Mazza

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