Just to Get Married

Theatre, Comedy
3 out of 5 stars

Time Out says

3 out of 5 stars

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This spirited proto-feminist comedy taking a pop at marriage gets revived for the first time in a century

Cicely Hamilton was a pretty amazing woman: an actor turned playwright whose works fought for the suffragette cause. She's also undeservedly forgotten. Revived for the first time in a century, her 1910 play has the power of a brick through a lace-curtained window, aimed at the oppressive institution of marriage.

Georgiana is pushing 30, and desperate to get hitched for the wrong reasons. She hasn’t got any especially strong feelings for her tongue-tied suitor, but with no hope of earning her own living, he’s her only hope for a future.

As her whole family lay traps for the eligible bachelor, we’re pretty much in Oscar Wilde territory: redoubtable aunts, chaise longues, and tart remarks about social propriety. But Hamilton’s archness collapses into something a little more tender as Georgie begins to struggle against the restrictions placed on her.

Like ‘A Doll’s House’, this is the story of a woman’s realisation that she’s worth more than her frilly frocks.

Philippa Quinn is a spirited lead, managing to make a pretty antiquated set of dilemmas feel painful and raw. And Jonny McPherson works as her red-faced, stammering foil, a suitor who’s held together by smart tailoring.

But Melissa Dunne’s revival feels like a slightly staid approach to her radical source material. Jaunty music hall tunes and a lilac Edwardian set conjure up the comforts, not the constraints of domesticity. Combined with Hamilton’s stitched-up happy ending, the play lands in a slightly more conventional place than you might expect. Still, it’s a hugely refreshing feminist insight into all the brutal realities behind those Edwardian happy-ever-afters.

By: Alice Saville

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