Reviewed by Jackie Thornton


Three young women, similar in age, identically dressed in flowing black skirts and neatly pinned dark tresses, take to the sparse, dimly lit stage with balletic movements. They are related – a mother and her two daughters – yet scarcely knew one another and this eighty-minute feminist ghost story, co-written/produced by performer Kaya Bucholc and first time playwright Will Wallace, will tell us why. It imagines the reunion of 18th century intellectual radical and mother of Western feminism, Mary Wollstonecraft (Megan Carter), and her two daughters, illegitimate love-child Fanny Imlay (Bucholc) and the world famous author of Frankenstein, Mary Shelley (Rachael Reshma). Kay Brattan’s skilful direction uses the petty squabbling between sisters Fanny and Mary to good effect, bringing light to what is predominantly a therapy session exposing bitter grief, jealousies and deep-seated insecurities. It’s Fanny who most wants to be heard and who can blame her? How can she ever feel good enough with such a gifted mother and sister? Voices leap out of the shadows as Mary, Mary and Fanny weave behind and around the audience, creating an unsettling soundscape that feels like it’s travelling across time.

The show is at its best when pockets of history like Mary Wollstonecraft working as a governess to spoilt children or the harrowing birth of Mary Shelley are realised as live scenes. It’s in these spaces, more so than the monologues, however fervent, that we feel more connected to these women’s experiences. What this show from creatives BiLLO Studio and Little Lion Theatre Company does wonderfully is give heart and soul to these pioneering female creatives and thinkers, all too often forgotten by history, and reminding us how their struggles have paved the way for men and women to live as equals, or at least aspire to do so. Mary Wollstonecraft advocated for a woman’s right to earn and make a decent living that could support herself and her family and it is in this spirit that
Mary’s Daughters has partnered with charity You Make It, who empower young unemployed and underemployed women to access the social, cultural and economic life of their city. A fitting legacy for three women so ahead of their time.