Wollstonecraft Live

Submitted by Janine on Mon, 09/26/2005 - 08:30

Last Friday, I went to see Wollstonecraft Live in Stoke Newington.

It sounded very appealing. Mary Wollstonecraft is an important historical figure (read something I wrote about her a while back here): the founder of feminism, indeed. And the format - a 'multimedia' event starting off indoors then going outside onto Newington Green - was intriguing.
These two factors did make it worth going. But otherwise, it was a disappointment.

The idea was that we were making a film about Mary, with the audience as extras. The problem was that it was never clear whether this was a show about Mary, or about film-making.

I like to think I know a bit about Mary Wollstonecraft. If I didn't, I would have found Wollstonecraft Live hard to follow. And although the performance gave an interesting account of her personality, it fell short of getting across her political weight.

After starting in the Unitarian Church with a short film and some of Mary's words, the audience was led across the road to the Green and invited to wander around the 'set' or sit on stacks of The Guardian.

This certainly kept me awake, involved and entertained. Some passages were really quite good, there were some funny bits, and some characters - including the boom operator, Mary's husband William Godwin, and the three Marys - held your attention and provoked your thoughts.

But one actor had the worst Cockney accent since Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins. And the incessant film-set fiddling was distracting. As we built up to the climax - the actual 'shooting' of a scene - there was so much faffing around that I wanted to shout out "Get On With It!". Maybe filming really is like that, but that does not interest me. There is a good reason why people go to see films rather than to see films being made.

All in all, I'm glad I went, but was not overly impressed. And if I were to recommend it, it would be with reservations.