Female Parts (Waking Up)

Illustration from the programme for Afterthought Theatre Productions ‘Female Parts’ which I directed in a television production studio temporarily adapted for live theatre. The production …

Female Parts (Woman Alone)

llustration from the programme for Afterthought Theatre Productions ‘Female Parts’ which I directed in a television production studio temporarily adapted for live theatre.

The production, for Brighton Festival, ran for the length of the festival, unusual for an umbrella event, and sold out many of its performances.

The image is a likeness of the actress Janice Jones, in character, and is one of four drawings made for the show’s programme.

Female Parts is a collection of one-woman plays by Italian playwright Dario Fo and his wife, actress Franca Rame.

The Scotsman

Glimpse Part One (The Scotsman)

Glimpse; Part One (Edinburgh Production)

An Honorary Man
Turning the Handle

Philippa Hammond delivers two glimpses in this show, separated by 1,500 years but linked by a theme of women bowing to the will and needs of men. In the first she is Hypatia of Alexandria, a director of the library there. Or a pagan whore, if you believe the Christian hierarchy. Hypatia is, however, a full-blooded and beautiful woman, aware of the pleasures of her body and the delights of her mind. So much so that her students have voted her “an honorary man”. She accepts this dubious accolade with gentle irony. As she accepts her murder and mutilation with the inevitability of the conflict between pure intellect and religious dogma.

In the second piece, we are in Edwardian England and she is married, against her parents’ will, to a prototype film maker whom she supports in everything, even stripping for his “what the butler saw” movies. After losing her husband, she continues her career to support her children, having stoically traded her home life of Hampshire parties and Home Counties ease.

Hammond is served well by two three-dimensional, literate and dramatic scripts written by Thomas Everchild and she displays brilliant talent in interpreting them for us. It is spellbinding and entertaining, heart rending and humorous. An hour was all too short.

Roderick Graham
The Scotsman

The Scotsman

Glimpse Part Two (The Scotsman)

Glimpse; Part Two (Edinburgh Production)

Little Girls Like to Kiss
Backstage Whispers

Glimpse is a collection of four solo shows presented by Philippa Hammond, two at a time on alternate evenings. In this case it’s a smoke-filled 1940s private dick yarn and a take on life at the shallow end of the theatrical talent pool. And very good they are too.

The first, Little Girls Like to Kiss, shows the gumshoe’s ubiquitous breathy secretary in her own right. Marcia Blouse is long-suffering, pouting and wisecracking. She is also fragile – lost without the defining influence of her absent boss? Not likely – more afraid that others are about to discover her guilty secret.

Cracks in the cool, sassy facade grow and meet, forming a portrait of paranoia. Hammond herself twists with the plot her character reports; first manipulative and catty, then desperate and cornered. Ultimately Marcia survives, and takes control again. Fittingly, this brings out Hammond’s best – understated and impressively controlled.

The second vignette, Backstage Whispers, has the same sense of command in script and acting. Hammond excels as the aspiring actor and skirts around the pitfalls of self-indulgence with admirable restraint. Even the “behind the curtain” jokes are sharp and entertaining.

Again the writing is taut, wry and understated. At best reminiscent of Alan Bennet’s Talking Heads, this is a touching tale of a call-box tart who lives and dies in 18 lines. Glimpse is impressive, and well-named; fleeting moments of subtle theatrical insight.

James Kirkup
The Scotsma

The Argus

Glimpse (The Argus)

Glimpse Women Through the Ages

A hit from the Edinburgh Fringe festival was staged at the Marlborough Theatre last week, filling it with drama, suspense and genuine laughs. Glimpse is a collection of four one-act plays by Thomas Everchild, all performed by Philippa Hammond. Each monologue delves into a different character and spins a tale which reels the audience in as the dimensions unfold. Hammond expertly places her audience in the scene, deftly moving across centuries and cultures as she embodies the mind and motivations of four women.

First she is Hypatia, a fifth century scientist and philosopher who has been virtually erased from history. Her questioning curiosity and fascination with physics and philosophy leaves her unwilling to fall in line behind other women. But by opposing political dogma in her quest for knowledge, she poses a threat only to herself.

Transforming in character, Hammond next plays a very proper Edwardian lady, drawn into the seedier side of the emerging motion picture business. Hammond makes real the young girl dazzled by love and impelled by necessity. Her performance is subtle and evades sensation, while Everchild’s writing doesn’t blind us with its intentions.

While the settings may be historical, the themes translate easily into modern concerns. These women have stories which demonstrate a survival of spirit even when the odds are stacked against them.

The third play switches to a cinematic scene, set in Forties New York, behind the frosted glass window of a private eye’s office. Hammond senses her character in every movement, her gait falling into louche photographic poses …. What begins as comic book cliché becomes a plot of love, jealousy, paranoia and missing persons befitting a pulp detective paperback, with its deadly twist on the last page.

Finally, we are snapped back closer to home. Everchild’s understated writing becomes increasingly comic in a deadpan scene of amateur theatre, the confessions of a bit-part in a hopeless fringe production.

Glimpse is graspable, engrossing and very entertaining; channel-flicking glances at scenes you won’t want to switch over.

Lyndsey Winship
The Argus