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Hourglass: A Suffragette's Story | Soho Poly

Amy Leigh-Matthews and Vikki Thompson’s Hourglass: A Suffragette's Story takes place during the Suffragette movement, following Lady Caroline Braithwaite (Thompson) as she becomes engaged and involved with the movement. Inspiring her daughter in the process, it infuriates her husband to the point where he locks her in her bedroom as punishment, before sending her to a mental asylum after being told she is suffering from hysteria. 

With a two and a half hour run time, it’s hard to adequately describe what you’ve watched. Not because you’ve been left speechless or in awe of what you’ve just seen, but more so because they could have told the same story in an hour with no interval. The play feels incredibly long, not helped by the slow-moving plot, and despite the important topic being discussed, the show feels simple and a touch lifeless. 

The script feels rigid, overly obvious and simplified, making the performance feel forced. Usually, with a small cast such as this, you’re able to connect with the characters and become invested in their story. Sadly, this was not the case here. None of the characters were truly likeable and it felt like there was no chemistry between the cast, with the acting feeling stiff and textbook, as if they were just reading from a script instead of making us believe they were living it. An audience wants to be drawn into the world the cast create and believe what is happening around then, but here you were simply watching someone act with no real connection to them whatsoever.

With a topic such as this, that can at times feel heavy, it’s almost natural that some humour should be sprinkled throughout to help lift the audience up. However, they missed the mark here. It again felt forced, and perhaps almost too silly for the tone of the play. For instance, at the end of Act 1, Lady Braithwaite is forced into a mental asylum by her husband under the diagnosis from Doctor Lockheart of Hysteria. After the interval, as you enter the room before Act 2 begins, the song ‘Mad World’ is playing. While I’m sure this has been chosen to be playful, funny and a bit ironic, it’s in fact a bit too on the nose, and seems to toe the line of being insensitive.

With an ending portraying a random seemingly shoehorned slow-motion gun fight, that had only two people in the audience laughing, it sums up the whole experience watching this play. It’s too long, too stiff, and too simplistic. The audience are not children being taught here, so you could easily inject the story with some more grit, tongue in cheek humour, and less over-simplification. As it stands, there is nothing that pulls the audience in or captivates them, meaning you leave feeling flat, which is likely the opposite to what you’d want from a play with this topic at its centre.  

⭐️⭐️ (2*)

Gifted tickets in return for an honest review | photography by David Monteith


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