Kathleen Yore plays the role of Annie Wilde, a mill girl from Nelson in Lancashire. Laughed at for wanting to play for football in school, laughed at for asking the mill owner for equal pay with the men, she joins the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) – the suffragettes – and goes to London to agitate for the vote.
Boff Whalley has created the character of Annie, but all the incidents in the play are real events that happened to real women fighting for the vote. There is a lot of humour in the telling of the tale and Whalley has written songs in the (music hall) style of the times.
Arrested for being in possession of a brick, Annie is sentenced to 60 days in Pentonville prison. Like all suffragettes she goes on hunger strike and her tale of being force-fed is truly harrowing. It contrasts with the humour in much of the play.
Annie is ultimately disillusioned once the First World War breaks out and WSPU support army recruitment by handing out white feathers to any young man not in uniform. In return the government give the vote to women over 30 who own property.
Annie sees this votes for the women in fancy hats, but not those like her in shawl and clogs.
“It’s not votes for women, it’s votes for ladies” she says.
Kathleen Yore’s performance held the audience rapt as she told her story was met with deserved applause at the end.
The audience clearly enjoyed the show and afterwards many were snapping up tickets for Red Ladder’s next performance – The Damned United – which is being staged at Belle Isle Working Men’s Club on Wednesday 29 November 2017.