To mark the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, the Royal Lyceum and Stellar Quines Theatre Company combine to produce Cat and Mouse, which tells the story of “four suffragette hunger-and-thirst strikers held in Perth prison in the summer of 1914”. The fictionalised, yet factually inspired production draws on historical evidence to detail the experiences of Frances Gordon, Maude Edwards, Fanny Parker and Arabella Scott, highlighting the extreme methods required in overthrowing the patriarchy. The 50-minute extract will be followed by an open discussion, which will no doubt critique and destabilise the assumptions we make in a predominantly masculine society. It’s a conversation that needs to be had, as women still face, on average, less pay and are often targeted as the everyday homemaker. Writer Ajay Close and director Muriel Romanes offer a spotlighted presentation of a relatively unknown sect of Scottish suffrage which it relies on contemporary practitioners to voice.
We can expect a militant assault on the issues surrounding female equality. It’s a no-bullshit approach to not only the struggle facing women in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, but a bleak realisation of values which must still be fought for today. The sobering record of how these women were force-fed in prison will be a central severity in conveying necessary radicalism. The only contact the women had with the outside world was from a doctor who ‘treated’ them for their ‘condition’. Essentially a torture in itself; the women had to not only eat the food which they rejected, but to swallow the dogma that was being imposed upon them. Close’s desire to reveal this form of suffrage is itself, an admirable and required challenge to systemics. Why should we attend the theatre to simply laugh at the odd middle-class quip or gasp at the mention of sex (heaven forbid)? The advantage of this discourse is that it not only enlightens, educates and challenges the ignorant, but rallies, inflames and supports the informed.