Dare to Care, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Stellar Quines and Fife Cultural Trust
Christine Lindsay (writer), Muriel Romanes (director), Sarah MacDonald (assistant director), Keith McIntyre (design), Jeanine Davies (lighting design), Hilary Brook (musical director and arrangement), Philip Pinsky (sound design), Jade Currie (video design), Patricia Panther (additional music composition) , Janis claxton (movement director), Ali Currie (costume supervisor), Jade Currie (photo)
Rebecca Elise (Lizzie, Rosie, Rhona, suffragette), Meg Fraser (Marie, Sonia, officer), Molly Innes (Lorraine, Sis, Coral), Anne Kidd (Agnes/Florence), Scarlett Mack (Mary, Swally, Madeleine Smith) and Alexandra Mathie (suffragette, officer, Eileen, Mildred)
Running time

Following a Traverse Rehearsal Room performance, Christine Lindsay’s Dare to Care is now premiering as a full production from Stellar Quines. This 21 year old company, whose mission is to champion women in theatre while being ‘bold, relevant and brave’, has chosen a play that ticks all the right boxes.

Written by prison warden turned playwright Christine Lindsay, Dare to Care shines a merciless light on life at Cornton Vale, Scotland’s primary prison for female offenders. From first offenders to hardened old timers the six strong cast cover the spectrum from self-harmer, prostitute, arsonist, bible thumper, mentalist or as the text says ‘witches’ and ‘bitches’.

A moveable cage, that the cast take turns to occupy, and clanking noises and voices set the tone of this bleak, raw and energetic play. It covers the harsh and desperate lives of modern women who find themselves on the wrong side of the law and the stories of how they cope. The six- strong cast takes turns in narrating the array of characters’ histories in various styles, their names appearing on each of the three screens that dot the dark stage. There is a thread of sorority with women prisoners of note from the past like Madeleine Smith, Ruth Ellis and hunger striking suffragettes, the latter, avoiding the anachronism of the modern screen, is portrayed as drawings on a hand held board with the head cut out, like those in beach promenade fun of the past.

But while the cast, that includes the excellent Molly Innes and Anne Kidd, gives individually strong performances, the production feels disjointed and there is just too much information. More focus on fewer characters may have engendered more poignancy. As it stands, it feels like a bit of a hotch potch with all the gloom of an average episode of Eastenders. The idea presents a good platform to link the issues faced by women in prison from past to present but it came with no sense of redemption. Any attempt at levity, like the light hearted song done with cutesy co-ordinated movements came across as just too incongruous. Where there’s life, there’s hope but despite the best of intentions, this production is relentlessly bleak.

The opening of this production coincided with this year’s International Women’s Day 2014, an annual celebration of women and their achievements.

Tour continues to:

Cumbernauld Theatre
Kildrum, Cumbernauld, G67 2BN
22 March 7.45pm
Box Office: 01236 732887

Beacon Arts
Custom House Quay, Greenock, PA15 1HJ
26 March 7.30pm
Box Office: 01475 723723

The Brunton
Ladywell Way, Musselburgh, EH21 6AA
27 March 7.30pm
Box Office: 0131 665 2240

ON at Lochgelly Centre
Bank Street, Lochgelly, KY5 9RD
28/29 March 7.30pm
Box Office: 01592 583303