Wow. For one of the first times in my life I am left absolutely speechless at a production as I get up for a standing ovation simultaneously with the rest of the audience. Emilia left me with something to think about, something to care about, feeling empowered and ready to make change. With the crazy things going on in the world at the moment, Emilia leaves an imprint on it’s audience.
Transferring from The Globe, Morgan Lloyd Malcolm’s play Emilia sets a fire in your belly. Emilia was one of the first published female poets, and a possible candidate for the ‘Dark Lady’ of Shakespeare’s sonnets. Despite Emilia Bassano being alive 400 years ago, her story is as 21st century as it comes. The issues are still relevant and Emilia rouses the audience to it’s feet with it’s passionate and inspiring words. Emilia is simply incredible.
In Nicole Charles’s production, three performers embody Emilia at different stages of her life. Saffron Coomber captures a young Emilia striving to make her way at court, Adelle Leonce shows an Emilia striving to pursue her literary passion and Clare Perkins is the mature and reflective Emilia. Each Emilia has the same passion for change and the transitions are almost seamless. The cast features a variety of amazing and diverse women and I am blown away and inspired by these phenomenal ladies. These talented ladies also play the numerous arrogant men we meet along the way, the infamous William Shakespeare, Lord Chamberlain and the men that affect her life with brilliant dry humour. To be totally honest, a review with me gushing about how good this show is simply cannot give the show the absolute justice it deserves.
The penultimate moment of the show is Perkins monologue at the end, she is full of an absolute fire and you can feel her words in your soul. Her monologue captures the raw emotions of not just Emilia but ALL females, I’ve never witnessed anything like it before, I looked over at my best friend sitting next to me and we both had tears in our eyes listening to these incredible words, we were left speechless, we didn’t know what to say, Emilia had summed up EVERYTHING we felt and I’ve never felt more connected to a character. I was proud, proud to be a woman, ready to fight, proud of all the women who came before me. Ever since the show, I cannot stop thinking about it and I’ve worn my Emilia pin badge every single day with absolute pride. I am Emilia. We are all Emilia.
“You say we hate men as if we silence them, as if we beat and abuse them, rape them, as if we shame them for their desires, as if we restrict them from any kind of independence and agency. As if we hang them and drown them and stone them and burn them.”
This show is a triumph in feminist theatre and will be hard for audiences to forget. Incredibly funny but also thought provoking, Malcolm captures the perfect balance of everything in this show and it is a joy to witness. By watching this show, you can appreciate how far women have come but how far we have to go and we are reminded of this in the closing statement. “Don’t stop now,” she says, “The house that has been built around you is not made of stone.”
I urge ANYONE and EVERYONE to go and see this show. Men, Women, Children, Grandparents, Cousins, Aunts, Uncles, Mums, Dads, Sisters, Brothers, Friends, your dog! The show closes on the 1st of June but is running at the Vaudeville Theatre. Tickets are available HERE or you can head over to the TodayTix app to unlock RUSH tickets for £20, you just need to get on the app for 10am!