Mrs. Emmeline Pankhurst is not a well woman. Recently released from prison under the new Cat and Mouse Act, her hunger strike has left her weak and debilitated.
1913 has not been an easy year for Mrs Pankhurst. The Suffragette’s campaigns have led to violence on all sides, arrest, imprisonment, hunger strikes, force-feeding in prison, damage to property and the movement’s denigration in the press at large. They have fire-bombed David Lloyd George’s new Surrey home and Emily Wilding Davidson has recently died under the hooves of the King’s horse at Epsom. Their campaign has been running for fifteen years. But still no votes for women.
The creator and leader of the Women’s Social and Political Union is also under considerable personal pressure. She is becoming an emotional wreck. Family bereavements and arguments are threatening to bring personal scandal which would wreck the work of her beloved Cause. She is financially embarrassed, living out of a suitcase and terrified at the prospect of being returned to prison.
The only place the fugitive Emmeline can find sanctuary is at the country home of her friend and ally, the composer Ethel Smyth. Not for the first time, Ethel lays downs her composer’s pen to help support her friend and the love of her life.
But Ethel’s love for Emmeline is about to be challenged by the arrival of the young firebrand, Grace Roe. Fresh from turning East Anglia into a hotbed of Suffragette protest and action, Grace is Emmeline’s latest protégé. Full of stories of her dangerous exploits and grand plans to firebomb the Pier in Great Yarmouth, this much younger woman is the one Emmeline intends to be her successor at the head of the WSPU. Ethel doesn’t know if Emmeline regards Grace as a daughter or a lover.
Between the three of them they must set about restoring leadership to the Suffragettes before the Police call at the door to take Emmeline back to prison. If they fail, it will be Ethel who will have to pick up the pieces.
This is a tale of friendship, hardship, jealousy and rivalry at the heart of The Cause. Karen Forbes’ exciting new play takes a rare glimpse behind the scenes at the private lives and the personal cost paid by the leaders of the Suffragettes.
This show is currently taking bookings for Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019. Please contact us for details.