Only 2 to 3 percent of the world’s statues are of women – and if you strip away all those of Queen Victoria and turn your focus onto working-class women, the number decreases even more. This is despite the fact that there are plenty of heroines that have roamed the earth. One of them was undoubtedly the first female professional writer and alleged spy Aphra Behn.

Credit: Greg Veit

In 2022, when the Canterbury Commemoration Society asked for designs for the first ever Aphra statue, they received over forty proposals and are now very close to bringing the statue to Canterbury. Funds are currently raised to cover the last remaining costs ( and that seems to be the ideal time to bring the previously celebrated play The Masks of Aphra Behn back on stage.

This well-written monologue is completed with excerpts from Behn’s letters, poetry, and plays and tells the tale of her lesser-known endeavours as a spy for King Charles II rather than her career as a professional writer. It takes the audience back in time to 1677, where it gathers to watch Behn’s most recognised play, The Rover. Instead of an actress, the writer herself enters the stage and begins to tell the story of her extraordinary life from traveling to Suriname to meeting her soon-to-be husband on her way back to England to being employed by Charles II to gather information on the Dutch from one of her former lovers.

Credit: Greg Veit

The Masks of Aphra Behn is a fast-paced recollection of a life full of excitement and hardship, as the woman spy never got paid for her work (at least not enough to pay the ongoing bills). Claire Louise Amias brings this wonderfully edgy women to life with brilliant wit and charm. She connects immediately with the audience verbally and with almost piercing looks that demand full attention. I found myself following every word she says and admiring the easiness with which Amias switches between the characters Behn encounters. Both voice and posture change in an instant, often making the audience smile and giggle.

Director Pradeep Jey has done a great job using the little space with only a chair and some letters as props to create a captivating story. The simplicity of the stage and the costume (the latter by Anna Sørensen Sargent) as well as Keri Danielle Chesser’s un-intrusive sound design supported the performance ever so subtly.

Credit: Greg Veit

It was a pleasure seeing this extraordinary woman honoured on stage with so much humour, respect, and admiration.     

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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

2 Star Review 3 Star Review 4 Star Review 5 Star Review 2022 2023 Adaptation Almeida Cabaret Camden Fringe Cast Announcement Christmas Comedy Dance Drag Edinburgh Fringe Edinburgh Fringe Interviews Fringe Immersive Interviews Jukebox Musical LGBTQIA+ Lyric Hammersmith Manchester Musical New Musical News New Wimbledon Theatre North West Off West End Park Theatre Play Review Revival Richmond Theatre Round Up Royal Court Theatre Shakespeare Show Announcement Show Recommendations Soho Theatre Southwark Playhouse Touring Production VAULT Festival West End

    The infamous Sh!t Faced Showtime are back in London with a festive edition, they have taken Dickens’ classic and put a drunken spin on it. The formula is the same as other iterations of the Shi!t Faced shows, one member of the cast has been boozing, and this time it is John Milton who plays Scrooge. Before the show, half a bottle of Jim Beam, some wine, and beer have been consumed in the previous 4 hours. The rest of the cast, try to keep the show on track, also aided by James Murfitt as the compere, Charles Dickens. The … More A PISSEDMAS CAROL – REVIEW – LEICESTER SQUARE
    Spine-tingling yet heart-warming, Mark Gatiss’s retelling of A Christmas Carol truly encapsulates the haunting atmosphere of a Victorian ghost story, balanced out with enough humour so as to capture the festive season. Led by Keith Allen as Scrooge, with Peter Forbes as Marley, this show is perfect for Christmas viewing. The set design by Paul Wills is instantly captivating, containing stacks of metal cabinets towering over the theatre, moveable by the cast to allow space for other central props like doors, beds and tables. In addition to this, the puppetry design by Matthew Forbes is incredibly clever, adding creepy elements to the show such … More A CHRISTMAS CAROL – REVIEW – ALEXANDRA PALACE
    The title of this winner of Theatre 503’s 2023 International Playwriting Award by Roxy Cook may seem like the set-up to a joke, but the narrative that unspools is instead an affectionate, gently barbed and at base quite sobering portrait of three ordinary souls (and one restless feline) adrift in modern Moscow. There is much affable, satirical back-and-forth commentary on the accepted myths & stereotypes of the Russian spirit & soul. Beset by the indignities of age, opportunism, graft, fatigue, the characters orbit one another, doomed to play out their roles in an unjust, predatory and saturnine universe. The play opens … More A WOMAN WALKS INTO A BANK – REVIEW – THEATRE503
    Peter Pan Goes Wrong first premiered in London at the Pleasance Theatre in 2013, and earlier this year the show made its Broadway debut. Now the production is back in the West End for the Christmas season. Following on from The Play That Goes Wrong, in this production, J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan is staged by the fictitious Cornley Polytechnic Drama Society and goes awry, disastrously so. The meta-comedy is filled with slapstick comedy, sometimes the humour may be predictable and silly, but it’s universally funny throughout – there is something for everyone here, and the laughs come thick and fast … More PETER PAN GOES WRONG – REVIEW – LYRIC THEATRE
    Drawing heavily from the classic canon of the British supernatural, HighTide’s trio of contemporary Gothic narratives uses traditional storytelling formats to address contemporary themes. Directed by Elayce Ismail, reverent musical interludes accompany tales of apparitions and nighttime conjurings that speak of women from the East of England. Unfortunately, the effect is less chilling and more lightweight, with conventional structures, predictable plot twists and an over-reliance on external forces to drive narrative shoring up some of the less relatable aspects of the genre. Nicola Werenowska’s The Beach House, perhaps the cleanest of the three tales, tells of a mother and daughter’s … More GHOST STORIES BY CANDLELIGHT – REVIEW – SAM WANAMAKER PLAYHOUSE

Leave a Reply