New theatre show The Voice Thief explores female voices for the over-9s

Promenade performance at Summerhall takes audience on an adventure through eight rooms at the venue

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New theatre show The Voice Thief explores the silencing of female voices for the over-9s

Elizabeth Fernandez

Got a troublesome daughter? A wife or girlfriend who speaks her mind a little too freely? A sister who won’t shut up? Venture along to Summerhall this November, and for a small fee the annoying female in your life can be rendered speechless.

It’s a flippant idea, but Catherine Wheels’ new show, The Voice Thief, was born out of a very real concern for how women are silenced. While the horror stories relayed from other parts of the world may feel far from home, as the show’s director, Gill Robertson points out, ‘There’s still a real gender difference in the way women’s voices are heard, and what’s expected of them.’

Aimed at ages 9-plus, The Voice Thief is more fairytale than political theatre, however, with Robertson keen for the show to have ‘a universal message’.

She describes the eponymous protagonist as ‘a kind of Willy Wonka character’, who runs the Institute for Vocal Harmony. ‘Girls’ voices are sent to him in jars from around the world,’ explains Robertson, ‘to be edited in some way, so they can go back to being nice and polite, and not confrontational or difficult.’

What the doctor hasn’t reckoned on, however, is his 17-year-old daughter finding a voice of her own. ‘She respects her father and thinks he’s a genius,’ says Robertson, ‘but she’s also beginning to question him and try to find her own way.’

Taking place in eight different rooms in the atmospheric basement of Summerhall, The Voice Thief may have an important statement to make, but it also promises audiences a good time.

‘The show is really good fun,’ says Robertson. ‘And because it’s a promenade piece, we take people into the “listening room” and “quarantine area”, show them operations happening – it’s an adventure.’

Summerhall, Edinburgh, Sat 1–Sat 15 Nov.

The Voice Thief

  • Directed by: Gill Robertson
  • Written by: Rob Evans

Catherine Wheels presents a new promenade production about the mysterious ‘Voice Facility’ which removes the voices of ‘troublesome’ girls. Ages 9+.

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