"Women on the front foot"
by Colin Hake for remotegoat on 18/12/13

'Win or Die', a 'one night only' show at the Tristan Bates Theatre, is part of the Women In The Arts Festival, in association with The Actors Centre and The So&So Arts Club, this December.

The piece is a series of 6 scenes involving strong female characters from various plays, both classic, contemporary and a sneaky piece of writing from the Director Jessica Ruano, herself!

As with all performances involving multiple scenes from different plays, it is often difficult to get into the scenes and find the characters in such a short space of time. I felt the actors (Sevda Levent, Kate Milner Evans and Rus Kallan) had a tough job ahead of them, and I found some of the pieces more forthcoming than others. The simple nature of the performance space, focussing on character rather than scene, demanded high quality performances. I particularly enjoyed some of the seamless transitions as characters morphed into new ones at appropriate times and in a simple and stylised way that eradicated any potential awkwardness.

The final scene, a piece from 'Checkmate' by Jessica Ruano the director, was a particular favourite and something I would like to see more of. The dry, witty nature and the strong character differentials allowed the actors to play, and it was clear they were having fun with it. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for the piece. One thing that I was disappointed with however, was the scene selection. Although their were strong choices, I found it strange that Ruano chose to do two pieces from Dangerous Liaisons, rather than integrate other characters. Where was Hedda or Nora (admittedly two favourites of mine)?

On the whole this was a performance that one could expect from such events. It didn't blow me away but was an interesting insight into some strong female roles, which goes to show the old theory that 'there are no strong female parts' is a fallacy and more are being written as you read this. A point further vindicated by the release of Lucy Kerbal's '100 Great Plays For Women', check it out if you can.

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