This Australian play is inspired by the history of Urania Cottage, the London home for “fallen women” founded by Charles Dickens
A fact largely relegated to elite level Charles Dickens trivia: the author operated a reform home for ‘fallen’ women in Victorian England. The care at Urania Cottage was gentler and more domestic than most comparable institutions at that time. Once the women had completed their rehabilitation, their passage would be booked on a ship to one of the colonies – like Australia – where they could have a chance to settle into a ‘respectable’ life, free from their pasts. The ultimate goal, of course, was marriage.
Seanna van Helten’s play draws a direct line from obscure Dickensian fact to the foundation of Australian colonial history. It had its premiere last year in Sydney, where we gave it four stars.
Now it's getting a brand new production by She Said Theatre in Melbourne, directed by Penny Harpham. The design is by Chloe Greaves and the cast includes: Zoe Boesen, Gemma Bird Matheson, Jing-Xuan Chan, Tahlee Fereday, Artemis Ioannides, and Veronica Thomas.