In an age of zero hour contracts and offshore sweatshops, Townsend productions provide a timely reminder of how effectively historical drama can resonate with the issues of today.Posted on 16th February 2019
Rouse Ye Women – Townsend Productions Thursday 14th February
Townsend Productions have been edging ever closer to contemporary issues over the last few years, with their last show – an examination of the Grunwick strike – dramatising events within living memory. So returning to the 19th century for Rouse Ye Women was something of a gear change for them, as was the decision to set Neil Gore’s narrative skills to one side, and have the story of the Cradley Heath chain makers told almost entirely through John Kirkpatrick’s songs.
The company have always presented shows that are handsomely staged, and with creative lighting and imaginative use of archive footage, those signature hallmarks were evident in this show. Otherwise, this was a stripped back production with an abstract, lyrical feel which relied heavily on the considerable singing talents of Bryony Purdue and Rowan Godel.
A bold departure from the norm, and a brave experiment, I did miss the humour and dramatic conflict of earlier productions, but this was nonetheless a heartfelt and educational experience, as their shows always are. In an age of zero hour contracts and offshore sweatshops, it was also a timely reminder of how effectively historical drama can resonate with the issues of today.
On 23rd May, Townsend will be back on more familiar territory when Neil Gore returns to the Corn Hall to perform The Ragged Trousered Philanthropist.
By David Vass