Will's Women

Will's Women - The XX Factor by Jane Jones and A Merry Regiment of Women by Rae Shirely - was performed at the Crown and Greyhound, Dulwich in May 2011.

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Review by Lorraine Greenslade

The Players presented, as their contribution to the Festival this year, "Will's Women" featuring an original piece, "The XX Factor" by Jane Jones and "A Merry Regiment of Women" by Rae Shirley. The entertainment was performed under the banner of the RSC's Open Stages Project, a movement in which the Players are delighted to be involved. The evening began with a very witty introduction, "The XX Factor" based on today's TV Special but set in the days of the Bard. 

Will Shakespeare and Ned Alleyn are summoned by Lady Macbeth who accuses them of not giving his heroines strong enough parts. At the instigation of Lady Macbeth they are pressed into judging the XX Factor show. They must decide which female character from one of Will's plays will be chosen to star in a mini-series especially written by the Bard himself. After all, Henry IV has one and Henry VI has a three-parter so it is now the women's turn - but which one will be worthy of her own series? Would it be Desdemona from "Othello",Cleopatra from "Antony and Cleopatra", Juliet and her Nurse from "Romeo and Juliet" or Katharina from "Taming of the Shrew? This was extremely well acted by all concerned; the admirable quality of this production was the excellent team work of a true "ensemble" offering. 

Firstly the XX Factor written by Jane Jones was witty and her grasp of today's "tele-speak" was both amusing and apt. The performances of all the cast without exception showed the results of hard work and character study and produced interesting and confident portrayals. The whole team production and acting showed the Dulwich Players at its best. The two directors, Rebecca Dalloway and Jane Jones were fortunate in having a team that did justice to their planning and encouragement 

Just one thought: the space at the Crown and Greyhound is not ideal but having rostra and desk at one side of the stage meant the action there at times left the audience at the other end slightly apart. Perhaps another rostrum would make the acting area stretch further?. It is interesting to note that heroines in Shakespeare's plays were always played by boys and it was not until many years later that women were allowed to tackle these parts. Nell Gwyn and Margaret "Peg" Woffington were among the first women allowed on the boards.