The stage was set with suitcases, wooden mannequins dressed in historical attire and a traditional coat hanger adorned with various hats. The vicar's wife (Rosemary Hawthorne) entered stage left, introduced herself and immediately launched into the history of undergarments, starting 200 years ago, ending the first half at WW2 and hitting the audience with everything they personally remember in the second act.
It's a slow starter, and we did wonder if we were missing the humour in the show as there were some people were laughing raucously and we were just smiling or tittering politely. However, as Rosemary got warmed up, you realise that she is leading you into a very unique comedic, yet historical and informative evening.
During the second half (and a slight set change), it was obvious that Rosemary was trundling into modern times where the audience recognised certain items of clothing, especially when the liberty bodice was extracted from a suitcase. That in itself got a round of applause.
Every single one of her props (mostly knickers through the ages, but there are plenty of surprises) appears to be the genuine article and a lot of thought has gone into the presentation of each era, garment and the story behind it.
It is definitely a girlie night out (although we counted about five males in the audience) and a very feminist history lesson, based around how women present themselves, their ability to do so and the freedom that has been achieved through the ages, but is highly recommended. The 75-minute performance is a much enjoyable evening although I actually don't think that anyone much younger than myself (I'm a 70's baby, dontcha know) would enjoy or appreciate the humour. My jaw was aching through laughing and I was pleased to see that Ms Hawthorne conducts a 'meet and greet' (albeit with a book sale opportunity) immediately after the show.
More tea, vicar??
You can find more details about the show >>> here <<<
Postscript: The Thwaites Empire Theatre is my local theatre, has a long and interesting history and is run entirely on donations and arts grants with all the staff working on a voluntary basis.
Picture Credit: Vicarage Productions