Angel of the House

As part of Manchester’s Wonder Woman festival, Asphalt Roses’ Angel of the House, by Alex Keelan, returns to Hope Mill Theatre.  The play weaves parallel stories of three generations of women who each find themselves in different forms of prison.

Rose, a care worker from present day Manchester lacks focus in her life, and has been arrested for throwing an egg at a policeman.  Angela, a WW2 spy has fought for her wartime role, using her skills to best advantage, but now finds herself suspected of espionage.  Annie, a suffragette, fights for the vote for all women and is prepared to do whatever is necessary in her aim.

Taking its name from a Victorian poem of the idealised woman, from where Virginia Woolf said ‘Killing the Angel in the House was part of the occupation of a woman writer’, this is a play about both the fight for, and the compassion within equality.  It’s a beautifully written play, spy Angela and suffragette Annie using sparse and defiant language that draws you into their arguments and asks you to think about their positions.  On the other hand Rose talks continuously of her very routine job and family, barely aware of many of the decisions she makes, but pausing every now and again to question why her care patient Pearl looks down on her for not standing up to present day inequalities.  What exactly should Rose be fighting for today?  I like plays that make you question your own views of modern life.

And it’s a strong production, the three actors strung across the stage as if through time, occupying their own world but somehow linked.  Impressive performances from all three actors in their very different roles; each time they speak, their world is convincingly formed and each narrative picks up seamlessly where they left off.  The threads interweave and draw out questions as much as answers.

A great production, well written and with strong impact, that asks important questions.

Monday 27 Feb – Thurs 2 Mar, Hope Mill, Manchester.

Theatre lover, amateur director, occasional actor, writer.

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