Madwomen in the Attic



C Nova

Venue 145


3 – 16 Aug



“Haworth Parish Church welcomes you to their weekly Women’s Aid Meetings.  Every Wednesday.  6pm”


Oh my goodness I found this show dire.


There was an excellent portrayal of the faintly anaemic, gently smiling, totally ineffectual woman who is the ‘group leader’ of a women’s group, wanting to be helpful without the faintest idea of what is, actually, helpful, and without any qualifications other than a woolly warm-heartedness.


The other characters weren’t particularly interesting people.  Helen a straight lift from the Tenant of Wildfell Hall; Antonia, presumably meant to be Mr Rochester’s first wife, though a (to me) grossly over-exaggerated portrait of a mentally disturbed woman; Grace, her ‘keeper’, whose secret passion, rather than alcohol, is Friday night karaoke sessions; and newly-pregnant Isabel, who presumably has some connection with Wuthering Heights; their stories are gradually revealed through the course of the evening.  Oh yes, and Jane, the ‘group leader’, about whom we learn little except that she suffers from thrush and can’t cope with the sight of blood, bore absolutely no resemblance to the feisty heroine of Jane Eyre.


And where were the madwomen?  Where was the attic?  There was a lot of self-indulgent posturing: there’s a lot of ranting, swearing, sexual references and violence, mainly from Antonia.  Quite frankly, my dear, I hardly gave a damn about any of them.  Maybe I missed the point?  Am I just too old to understand?  The show is billed as “exploring issues including mental health and domestic abuse” – I don’t feel anything was explored; rather it was paraded in front of us with a lot of noise.


I did love Grace’s songs, which acted as entr’actes between the scenes: she has a cracking voice and excels in putting over ‘standards’, but as for the rest…  Other people found the show worthy of applause: I got out as fast as I could and headed for a space where I could find peace and quiet and recover.


Mary Woodward