To Hecate!


Sue (Sandra Hollins) and Di (Deborah Whitmarsh-Boyse) are over it. Over their working lives, over being treated like that means they’re over the hill.

To Hecate! is a slice-of-life piece that shows two friends meeting for coffee (which rapidly becomes a bottle of wine the two positively demolish) to talk about the things women talk about. They talk about their partners, their children of course. But they also talk about their lives, their disappointments, their bodies and the “shifting sands” that exemplify the place in the world so many older women feel.

Written and directed by Whitmarsh-Boyse, this play is a beautiful, courageous and extremely realistic depiction of the lives of two newly retired and increasingly pissed off women. They go from lamenting Sue’s leaving present from a workplace that clearly hadn’t put much thought into who she was as a person to viciously sending up the vacuous 20-somethings she shared an office with.

This is a show that puts the experience of a generation of women who are so infrequently heard right at its heart. Sue and Di probably fall directly between my mother and myself in terms of age, but these are the conversations we have with each other – about men and the menopause; about the realities of relationships that can be at once loving and frustrating; about what to do with yourself when everything you once held firm to has slipped away – like those shifting sands.

Both Hollins and Whitmarsh-Boyse beautifully encapsulate their characters. They offer a deep and essential truth, while never feeling like they were preaching or teaching. Yes, there were flashes (hot ones) of anger at how their lives had turned out. But far more often there was joy and love and humour and celebration. These are not one-dimensional disappointed women – moved through the gears from maiden to mother to crone with little agency. These are two well-rounded and deeply human characters who the men in the audience could relate to just as much as the women.

To Hecate! is a short piece. It felt to me like it was perhaps part of an unfinished, larger piece, reengineered to fit the strictures of the Camden Fringe. I very much hope that is true. It is extremely good as it stands and I would love to see what a bigger development of it could look and feel like. I for one have not had my fill of Sue and Di.