Review: A Sort of Revolution puts 100 years of women’s suffrage into modern perspective

A Sort of Revolution by Martha Loader was performed at Ipswich Art School Gallery as part of their W

A Sort of Revolution by Martha Loader was performed at Ipswich Art School Gallery as part of their Women 100 exhibition Photo: Tusk - Credit: Archant

Review: A Sort Of Revolution, by Martha Loader, Tusk Theatre Co, Ipswich Art School Gallery

Tusk Theatre company present A Sort of Revolution. First commissioned as part of the Ipswich celebrations of 100 years of Women’s Sufferage, Martha Loader’s, thoughtful, witty, perceptive and honest play gets a second run as part of the Women 100 Art Exhibition.

The amazing exhibition of women artists, creates a poignant backdrop to this play. Set in the round, a simple set places an ironing board at its centre. An ironic nod to Look Back in Anger, I think. And I’m reminded that despite the powerful display that surrounds us, one constant struggle has remained through all the achievements of feminism in the past 100 years. It’s not about having it all. It’s about doing it all. And when Emma (Martha Loader) discovers her great grandmother’s Suffragette past, her present it forced into sharp focus. Just how far have women really come?

Loader’s play illustrates clearly that the personal is political: from sexualised street harassment to “Pervy Richard” at work. From the gender pay gap to how Emma’s “worth” will be “measured” as mother in the workplace. Emma can visualise her future but Ben (Jack Parker), her partner can’t quite see the disempowering link: “It’s not all men.” But if there’s one message in this play, it’s that both men and women are part of the solution. Both have equal stakes in their future and Emma’s promotion at work is vital for their survival. She deserves it. She “works hard” and is “respected.” However, she is pregnant.

Loader’s writing is crisp and very successfully creates characters that challenge narrative stereotypes around pregnancy and motherhood, especially. With Emma, Loader skilfully creates a character with real agency, personality and humour. We totally empathise with Emma, with her anger and her choices throughout. We understand her completely.

Despite the ironing board, this is no Look back in Anger. Ben is no Jimmy Porter. His masculinity isn’t dented by Emma. It’s 2019 and the narrative isn’t all about ‘him’ any more. There is even a great moment where he earnestly “mansplains” feminism, as Emma says. But we believe his sincerity. He is finally listening.