It’s not what you say it’s how you say it. This isn’t necessarily true – but in theatre, depending on the subject matter, how content is conveyed to an audience could make or break the piece as a whole. Following on from Age of Arousal and Marilyn, the Royal Lyceum continue their season of female-driven dramas with Liz Lochhead’s Educating Agnes, an adaptation of Moliere’s classic L’ecole des Femmes. Agnes (Nicola Roy) has fallen desperately in love with Horace (Mark Prendergast), but little does she know: Arnolphe (Peter Forbes) in fear of growing old and lonely, has plans to marry her and teach her to be the ideal wife.
You might wonder what else there is to say about women/gender/oppression and you’re probably right to be critical – little will be said in Educating Agnes that you won’t have heard before. But what is different about Lochhead’s work, is how she’ll say it. For that reason, she is rarely described as a playwright; rather a poet. Her plays are not only produced to be watched, but also to be listened to. In this translation, as with Tartuffe, the language is transposed to Scots and rhyming couplets, a combination which is sure to produce a rapier wit-filled farce. Feminist writers, or pieces by women and about women, often carry with them the preconceptions that they will produce hard-hitting, girl power-promoting works of angst. If Age of Arousal and Marilyn didn’t convince you otherwise, Educating Agnes probably will.