A Play, a Pie and a Pint: Mrs Barbour's Daughters
AJ Taudevin's play tackles the Suffragette movement in moving sketch of feminist tradition
When much-loved curator, actor, director and playwright David MacLennan passed away in June this year, he left a massive legacy. For over a decade his Oran Mor lunchtime showcase A Play A Pie and A Pint has grown in scope, becoming an international brand. Encompassing different genres, from farce to drama to the famous satirical subversive pantomimes (usually featuring the charismatic performer Dave Anderson in drag) its remit is to cover established writers and nurture new talent alike. The current Autumn/ Winter season is its twenty first, featuring collaborations with other production companies, including, as for Mrs Barbour's Daughters, Edinburgh's Traverse Theatre.
Regular writer and collaborator at PPP A J Taudevin returns with this story of women's rights and suffrage. Like her other plays, including a contribution to the PPP celebratory 250th production The Jean Jacques Rousseau Show, Mrs Barbour's Daughters is unashamedly political. Taking the titular role of campaigner for women’s rights, Mary Barbour, Libby McArthur traces the struggle through the generations, linking Cameron’s controversial divisive bedroom tax to the rent increases of 1915.
What initially seems like merely a stand-off between Mary (an excellent Anna Hepburn), and her care worker niece Joan (McArthur again) becomes a symbol of the fight for Suffrage in Glasgow. Threatened with eviction from her flat, and seeking a soothing balm in her wireless’ old songs, Mary has become an irascible old lady, while, in flashback, Joan's activist mother Grace (Gail Watson) sings the classic paean to socialism John MacLean's March: the three women reveal the generations of women fighting for their rights in different times and ways.
With it's short running time – PPP is a lunchtime event – Mrs Barbour's Daughters is a concise and moving sketch of the feminist tradition and makes its point using sweet harmony, not rabble rousing.
Orna Mor, Glasgow, Mon 6–Sat 11 Oct.
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 14–Sat 18 Oct.