Theresa May was once described by former Minister Ken Clarke, as a ‘Bloody Difficult Woman’ a term she later accepted and embraced. During her brief time in office, one thing became clear and that is the double standard between men and women in politics.

Tim Walker’s Bloody Difficult Women follows the story of Gina Miller, the businesswoman that took the government to court over their wish to evoke Article 50 without parliamentary approval first. Essentially attempting to fast track the process of exiting the European Union, but also undermining the process of the constitution and of parliamentary sovereignty. It was an essential case to bring about as allowing a PM to enact such a monumental process without Parliamentary consultation would set a dangerous precedent.

The play depicts both women at the heart of this case, and the two sides of the coin of the Brexit debate.

The stage is complete with a long strip of screen for video projections and a bench at the back of the stage, where the other cast members sit and watch the scenes unfold when they are not within them. This is symbolic of how all eyes were on these two women during that time, and neither could afford to make a step out of line. There are minimal props used within the performance, apart from an array of alcohol beverages throughout. A ‘News at 10’ style tune played to signify scene changes.

The Daily Mail’s Paul Dacre (Andrew Woodall) is portrayed as an incredibly powerful man – who knew the tabloid newspapers had so much power? Dacre is arrogant and demanding, just wanting them to ‘get Brexit done’. Dacre’s lines are heavily laced with expletives (so much so that if I’d had a swear jar, I would have paid off my Fringe accommodation). Woodall’s performance is funny to begin with but begins to feel slightly repetitive and tiresome as the show unfolds. The character becomes slightly one dimensional, however all the drama within the production seems to come from him.

The entirely fictional, final showdown between the May and Miller is great in its intensity. It shows that they have more in common than they thought, as they share the struggles they face as women in positions of power.

Jessica Turner is wonderfully awkward in her portrayal of May, creating a genuine and accurate characterisation of the former PM. The cast member that brought comic relief to the play is George Jones, who takes on two roles. One of these roles is as a young man working at the Daily Mail who communicates mostly in cockney rhyming slang – which proves hilarious and provides some laughs in an otherwise rather serious show.

Bloody Difficult Women felt rather low on the drama at times and more akin to a documentary. Although this is an important story to tell, and I’m sure one that will appear in politics exams in the future, the story requires some work to make the show a more enjoyable, less intense 90-minute watch.

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

{🎟 AD – PR invite – Tickets were gifted in exchange for an honest review}

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