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Theatre Royal Stratford East

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World
4.0REviewer's rating

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World is an upbeat educational new musical directed by Amy Hodge and based on the picture book by Kate Pankhurst.  The music is very modern, and poppy as can be expected since it was written by Miranda Cooper (Girls Aloud; Kylie Minogue).

The idea is great! The cast is amazing! Jade Kennedy, Renée Lamb, Christina Modestou and Kristie Skivington give incredible high-energy performances and their talent and delivery allow for both comedy and serious moments while portraying these historical figures. The music is fun with more emotional songs and ones that balanced education with comedy such as Mary, Mary, and Marie.

Celebrating women could not be easier with the all-female cast bringing light to… well… fantastically great women. The lighting and set were also used effectively to distinguish between the different tones. A stand-out moment was when Gertrude Ederle swam through a silver sheet to give a comedic illusion of swimming. If a celebration of women is what you’re looking for this show would be great, however, if you’re looking for a groundbreaking story, this may not be the show for you.

The show is framed through the perspective of Jade (fantastically played by Kudzai Mangombe), an 11-year-old school girl who after being left behind on a school trip, stumbles upon a closed exhibition that allows her, and thus the audience, to celebrate many famous and inspiring women throughout history. Jade’s want, and therefore her arc, is muddled. Throughout the play, she wants to: rebel by popping all the balloons at a party, or get a dog, or getting her parents back together, but it is her underlining desire to be heard. She listens to and is inspired by these undoubtedly motivational women but is inspired to copy what they do rather than find her own way. Moreover, the appearance of the woman themselves did not build on each other. The order in which they appeared could have been swapped and Jane Austen could have easily been changed to Charlotte Bronte who only succeeded in writing under a male pen name. Therefore, while it is amazing to see successful women celebrated on stage by a female cast and a mostly female creative team (and I am definitely in favor of more of these on stage), the lack of connectedness of all the stories was disappointing.

The show was a nice watch, and I loved the high energy but if I were 10 years younger (or more), I think I would have loved the show, both for its energy and educational values. I can see this show being very popular among teachers and parents taking their children to see a child-friendly educational fun show. The audience seemed to love it, especially the younger age groups. Any show that allows young people to enjoy the theatre and possibly learn something does well in my books.

  • Musical
  • Based on the book of the same name by Suffragette descendant Kate Pankhurst
  • Director : Amy Hodge
  • Music by Miranda Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo
  • Cast includes: Kirstie Skivington , Kudzai Mangombe, Elise Zavou, Clarice Julianda, Renée Lamb, Jade Kennedy and, Christina Modestou
  • Theatre Royal Stratford East
  • Until: 17 JULY 2022

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