Billed as ‘a funny and thought-provoking show exploring the Northern women you’ve heard of (and the one’s you haven’t)’ Fox and co-host Joey Holden’s attempt at developing the local historical knowledge of their audience is, if nothing else, ambitious.
Thoroughly researched, lovingly put together, and delivered at a perfect tempo, ‘bra’ continues Fox’s reputation as being a master in comic structure and arrangement. Blending lecture with impersonations with poetry with audience participation, Fox directs the show brilliantly, balancing complex emotions (regret, anger and humour) with well-placed moments of scripted comedy, mimicry and casual asides. What could have become militant activism, deep regret, or over the top humour, are managed superbly through a style of story-telling which regularly changes direction, pivots and is both respectful and appropriate. It’s a style which also helps keep the audience engaged and interested.
Set out as a vehicle to remind/ introduce us to some of the most inspirational women from the North (including Hylda Baker, Ellen Wilkinson and Charmian Welsh) ‘bra’s’ real success is it’s ability to provide the audience with a sense of optimism in its underlying message that we should not allow our circumstances or social expectations to define who we are as individuals.
Hard hitting in parts, but always meaningful, Fox reclaims historical figures and puts forward a case for greater reclaiming in the future. A final poem from Kate, the most impactful moment of the evening, recommends that we never forget those who have gone before us and that we use them as inspiration for our future. As a reminder, reclaimer and inspirer itself this was perfect.