Reviewed by Paula Citron
Linda Griffiths’ 2007 hit play Age of Arousal is a sparkling production created by Shaw Festival artistic director Jackie Maxwell, her excellent female ensemble, and Griffiths’ provocative feminist themes.
The playwright was “wildly inspired” by George Gissing’s 1893 novel The Odd Women. By definition, an odd woman knew she would never marry, and vowed to lead an independent life.
The five spinsters of the story are each fascinating character portrayals. Added to this is Griffiths’ theatrical device – “thoughtspeak” – where the women express their innermost feelings mixed in with ordinary conversation. Very heady stuff.
Lesbian couple Mary Barfoot and Rhoda Nunn run a secretarial school for women. When they intersect with the gently reared and genteel poor Madden sisters, life swerves off the rails for them all. The lone man, the fox in the hen house, is Mary’s doctor cousin Everard.
The scintillating play is superbly acted and directed.
Age of Arousal continues at the Shaw Festival’s Court House Theatre until Oct. 10.
Age of Arousal
Written by Linda Griffiths
Directed by Jackie Maxwell
Performed by Donna Belleville, Jenny Young, Zarrin Darnell-Martin, Sharry Flett, Kelli Fox and Gray Powell
Court House Theatre, Jul. 23 to Oct. 10