Sunday, 16 September 2012
Theatre review: Hindle Wakes
Houghton's play follows a fairly simple structure, a series of encounters, mainly in the Jeffcotes' breakfast room, as the families are gradually made aware of the news, and try to come up with an arrangement that suits everyone. So it's to everyone's credit that, even with the shock factor of a woman having pre-marital sex sex long gone, there's still plenty for a modern audience to enjoy. A lot of this is down to the often comic nature of Houghton's blunt Lancashire dialogue, which the cast take advantage of to amusing effect.
It's a bit of a shame that the synopsis in the Finborough's publicity essentially gives away the major event of the final act, and what was presumably a bit of a big twist when the play was first produced. Fanny's independence was probably a shocker, but I suspect the real point of controversy was the play's insistence on her as a woman who not only enjoys sex for its own sake, but is as able as a man use someone for her own sexual gratification alone, and moreover doesn't see anything wrong in that. Houghton frequently takes pot-shots at the hypocrisy which sees a woman ruined if she indulges her sexuality, while a man is only in any kind of trouble if he gets caught.
Hindle Wakes by Stanley Houghton is booking until the 29th of September at the Finborough Theatre (returns only.)
Running time: 2 hours 5 minutes including interval.