We have had fantastic feed back for our first show Paper Dolls.
Here is a 5* review from Female Arts for Camden Fringe
Email from local MK writer and Artist Neil Beardmore:
Congratulations on an excellent performance. We assumed the three of you had adapted/devised and directed it yourselves - in itself a major task well achieved. My friends from Bedford (before knowing I knew you) said you were particularly talented. (I agreed of course! - but also your interpretation of Shakespeare was tops for me)
All the different characters well portrayed bringing out class issues as well as gender. There was a good balance between the three of you - a good number - and all your different talents brought together a play with humour and stuff to think about.
Hope you can tour it.
Review by local MK Writer and Producer Alexander Lynch:
Let me tell you a true story. On a hot Thursday 7th August I had a busy day of meetings in London and ended up in Camden Town late afternoon. The ending of my day was the highlight of my day when I bought my ticket to ‘Paper Dolls’ at the Etecetera Theatre above the Oxford Arms pub. I enjoyed and I mean enjoyed the individual and team performance of Ana Diego, Carly Halse and Anna Parker-Naples showing great acting skill by each adopting multiple roles. This talented trio devised and wrote this educational (I mean that in the best possible way) reminder of the Suffragettes struggle. Their exploration was evidenced through presenting to me drama, laughter and a tear or two. Their physicality made me jump (couple of interpretations here) and the music was spot on. A great balanced production. The pub downstairs fed my stomach and for less cost the play fed my soul. The audience loved it, I know because I spoke with them after. One couple down from Manchester said they saw mention of the play in the Guardian Events Supplement and they were pleased to have made it part of their holiday. It’s good to see professionals at work... so don’t miss it.
John Burton It really was an excellent performance - A credit to everyone involved.
Carla Diego Wow amazing! Well done you guys are an inspiration!!!
19 September at 21:57 · Powerful. Funny. Thought-provoking. Loved it! So glad I went to see Paper Dolls! Learned something new and had an enjoyable evening to boot
— with Ana Diego.
Julia Berg Serious events that happened interspersed with comical fashion skits... a very enjoyable play. Thought the intro of other characters was well done too. x
Susan Jenkins Throughly enjoyed it! The kind of show that deserves to be on TV :) Well done xx
John Burton I was really impressed - enjoyed it from start to finish
Susan Lee Burton It was a fabulous show Ana. Well done to all. Entertaining, watchable and informative.
So glad I went last night to see "The Paper Dolls" (Camden Fringe Festival) -- a moving, captivating play about the fight for women's suffrage in England. The bravery, conviction and steadfast resolve these women had that made history. A hundred years later we forget how far we've come and the rights we have today because of the sacrifices of others! 3 talented actresses playing several different roles, a brilliant script and overall a play worth going to watch. Congratulations Ana Diego - I hope tonight is again a smashing success..xx
Hannah Fox Kelly A very powerful production. So glad I got to see it. x
Review from local writer Adam Wilby
Paper Dolls: Friday 19th September 2014
This had first been brought to my attention primarily to the fact I have known actress Ana Diego for a number of years now, our paths crossing a number of times during this time. Anyway moving onto to her current project of her current stage project of Paper Dolls from A Cat and Mouse Act theatre company which also included Anna Parke...r-Naples and Carly Halse, this was something I’d assumed was solely the name of her theatre group. I’d heard it had something to do with Suffrage and was vaguely aware that a woman called Mary Richardson had vandalised a painting once but that was the sum of my knowledge. Research freak that I am I felt an obligation to research the subject matter more extensively so that I’d have a better understanding of what I was watching when 19th September rolled around which was, as it turned out, was time worth spent, as I was in a better position to understand several of the references, an example of which being the death of Emily Wilding Davison on June 4th 1913 when she attempted to attach a Suffrage flag (made up of purple, white and green tricolour with the motto ‘Deeds not Words’) to the bridle of King George the fifth’s horse Amner at the Epsom Derby and was trampled in the attempt, never regaining consciousness before dying four days later.
This was an example of the Woman’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) which was an offshoot of the Suffragists who had until that time chosen to use peaceful tactics such as protest marches and in the program the question is raised – where such action would have led if not for the outbreak of war in 1914?
As it turned out the point was very much made that women were as capable as men when they stepped up and filled the roles left by the men who’d gone to fight, even if they were often on a lower pay scale. The long and short of it is that given that high ranking members of Parliament (inclusive of the then Prime Minister Herbert Asquith) had met with the Suffragists the consensus seems to be shared amongst today’s historians that while civil right movements, inclusive of those based on women’s right to vote, might have a few years longer to change they still would eventually have become law.
Returning to the play itself and drawing from information attained from A Cat and Mouse Act website, Paper Dolls is a mixture of the old and the new, by which I mean it links original plays with first-hand accounts of the period. Given that support for the Suffrage cause came in both peaceful and not so peaceful forms the play is structured so that Anna Parker-Naples and Carly Halse perform two roles, with Ana Diego performing three, as they alternate between actresses of the time performing pro-Suffrage plays with the wicked humour of fashioning clothes suitable for weapon concealment and body protection which never failed to amuse the audience. On the opposing end of the spectrum were the actions of the more militant suffragists which often led to custodial sentences. Once imprisoned one of the more common ways for them to continue protesting was hunger strikes, indeed the character of Kitty Marion (portrayed by Anna Parker-Naples) has subsequently become famous for consequently facing the ordeal of being force fed over two hundred times, the practice itself being simulated on stage in one of the play’s more unsettling scenes when food is forced down a foot long tube into someone’s stomach.
Given the public resentment of this practice ‘The Cat and Mouse Act’ (from which this theatre company draws its name) was introduced by the government in 1913 and allowed for the early release of prisoners who were so weakened from hunger striking that death was a distinct possibility, then to be returned to complete their sentence when they’d recovered full health. At best controversial this act was at one point likened to, “a cat playing with a half-dead mouse”.
However, where would this review be without mentioning the character of Edith Garrud ? (performed by Ana Diego). Measuring a mere four feet eleven inches she learned and later taught Japanese Jujutsu at a time when Asian Martial Arts were a virtual unknown in the Western world. In addition to, with her husband William, teaching at an academy after their own teacher left, she also offered classes exclusively for the Suffrages. Eventually becoming the trainer for the Suffragette bodyguard (a group of thirty created with the intention of keeping the leaders from being re-arrested due to the conditions of the aforementioned Cat and Mouse Act), a quote from a Daily Mail reporter who was invited to attack her and attempted to do so several times simply has to be included, “I rose convinced of the efficiency of Jujutsu, and aching in every limb, crawled painfully away, pitying the Constable whose ill-fortune it was to lay hands on Mrs Garrud”.
In light of the fact that it was Edith Garrud’s style to incorporate joint locks and throws into her manner of self-defence it was probably a wise choice by actress, and probable choreographer, Ana Diego to instead predominately demonstrate elements of what seemed to be the alternate Japanese Martial Art of Karate upon what was very probably a rather unforgiving floor with blocking and disarming techniques being kept to a minimum, as well as the use of Indian Clubs used as a counter to police batons. Given that the police at the time weren’t exactly impartial to physically attacking and in some cases sexually assaulting women this type of defence is hard to question.
Closing the play is the incident for which Mary Richardson (portrayed by Carly Halse) is arguably most famous for, and for which she received her ‘Slasher’ monika. For most of Paper Dolls the painting of Rokeby Venus (a female nude painting by Spanish artist Diego Velazquez) which, after approximately two hours of wandering round the gallery the real-life Richardson selected the painting predominately because of a personal dislike to it. In any case full credit has to go to the Cat and Mouse theatre company for their ability to accurately replicate the damage caused.
All in all congratulations to all concerned for a most enjoyable production.