Tag Archives: Nastazja Somers



VAULT Festival



The Vaults

Reviewed – 13th March 2019



“an ambitious project … nicely done, with simple choreography and unified breath”


10 is an ambitious project for an hour long play; to distill the lives of ten women from history. Luckily, Lizzie Milton’s script lives up to the challenge well. When the audience enter the five women, who will take on two roles each, are standing around the space, statuesque in long dark blue dresses. The beginning and the transitions are nicely done, with simple choreography and unified breath. Director Nastazja Somers has created a strong framework on which to base the strands of the women’s stories and the music, sound and lighting, by Nicola Chang and Rajiv Pattani, support and complement the action beautifully. The casting is largely race and age blind, and it works really well.

Pamela Jikiemi took on the contrasting roles of Aethelflaed and Mary Prince. As Aethelflaed, the earliest recorded female ruler in Britain, she was impressive; portraying pride in achievement, and the shock of not being remembered. As Mary Prince, a woman who escaped slavery and terrible ill treatment to become only the second black woman to have her autobiography published, she was magnificent. Mary’s strength and anger, her suffering, and her pride shone through, and her sorrow when she thought of her husband was genuinely moving.

Rebecca Crankshaw was Brenda Proctor and Ada Lovelace. Proctor played a central, but largely undocumented, role in the miner’s strike, leading twenty-three thousand women on a march from Staffordshire to London. This piece was the least successful, not really conveying Proctor’s strength. There was so much concentration on her warm offerings of tea and cake that her activism rather got lost. Crankshaw gave a strong performance as Ada Lovelace, although I found her declarations, such as ‘I’m bloody brilliant, aren’t I!” rather jarring. There was no sense of her as a woman of her time.

Lydia Bakelmun played Princess Caraboo and Noor Inayat Khan, bringing warmth and charm to both roles. Princess Caraboo was a young woman from Devon who managed to convince people both in the UK and the USA that she was a princess from a faraway land. When her deception was discovered she settled in Bristol and sold leeches to the Infirmary. Bakelmun’s Caraboo was flirtatious and appealing, sure of her beauty and delightful. In the very different role of Noor Inayat Khan she gave us a portrayal of a brave and very human heroine. Khan was of Indian and American descent, and was in the Special Forces during WW11. She gave the audience a dilemma. Would you kill a nazi to save the lives of innocent people? Could you do it? Khan’s courage, arrest and execution, her final cry of ‘liberte’ were beautifully portrayed.

Beth Eyre’s first role was the Welsh artist Gwen John. John was recognised for her portraits of women, although she was overshadowed by her more famous brother, Augustus. Eyre’s Gwen was full of self doubt, imbued with a sense of faith, yet anxious about an upcoming exhibition. Her second role was that of Joan Clarke, who worked at Bletchley Park decoding the Enigma machine. Remembered now for her brief engagement to Alan Turing, Clarke was a gifted mathematician who made an important contribution the the war effort. Eyre showed her as a careful, deep thinking woman, concerned to make a word where everyone would be equally valued and welcome. Don’t try to knock the wall down, create a way through – a door maybe, she said.

Naomi Knox gave us Mary Seacole and Constance Markievicz, two very different women, both brought beautifully to life. Seacole was British-Jamaican woman who went to nurse in the Crimea, going there at her own expense. Knox showed her as a strong, woman, fulfilled by her work and her care for the patients. Then as a person lost, having to return home after doing so much. The warm strength of Mary Seacole was sharply contrasted by the harder strength of Constance Markievicz, a political revolutionary who fought for Ireland’s freedom from Britain. Knox was fierce, deadly determined, ready to shoot, but showing, too, Markievicz’s isolation in prison and her belief in a better world.

The play’s ten women, some better known than others, each made their own unique contributions. As an audience, enjoying the performances, we also learned about these extraordinary people and their lives, without ever feeling that we were being taught.


Reviewed by Katre

Photography by Ali Wright


Vault Festival 2019


Part of VAULT Festival 2019




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Review of Torn Apart (Dissolution) – 4 Stars

Torn Apart thespyinthestalls

Torn Apart (Dissolution)

The Hope Theatre

Reviewed – 6th July 2017





“The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled”



Where do our most intimate moments and conversations take place? The Bedroom. It is only fitting then that from the moment you walk into the theatre, we see the beginnings of one of three troubled love stories already taking place. Torn Apart (Dissolution) interweaves these three very different stories: A soldier and a student (Nastazja Somers & Charlie Allen), a young chef and an Australian on a working visa (Elliot Rogers & Christina Baston) and a mother and her lesbian partner (Sarah Hasting & Monty Leigh).

Despite these three very different stories sharing the same intimate space and a very well placed deck of cards, the themes and issues could not be more different. Although inevitably, as in love, there is always some crossover, and the moments when the actors from different stories share the same lines are particularly beautiful. It would not be right to say “there is something for everyone”, more there is something we can all relate to in the stories told, and all three strike a chord.

As well as the very immediate issues of love, separation, distance and family, the play beautifully addresses the aspects of love and relationships we inherit from our own family environments as well as externally by society and how we are conditioned to expect these intimate situations to play out. The cage that surrounds the bedroom perfectly mirrors these constraints and the actors actively try to break free from them, but ultimately these constraints we have created for ourselves can be too hard to break.

Finally, when leaving, the word dissolution from the title is particularly poignant as we see the opening couple lying on the same bed, worlds apart from where we started. Echoing the resolution we so often fail to find when it comes to matters of the heart.

The women in particular in these stories are incredible, and are acted so emotively it is hard not to be enthralled. Writer and director Bj McNeill has created a wonderful piece dealing with so many issues, putting women at the forefront and really allowing them to shine within their respective roles.


Reviewed by Thomas Perks

Photography by Scott Rylander


The Hope Theatre thespyinthestalls


is at The Hope Theatre until 22nd July



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