Tiring House tale

Playhouse Creatures

Playhouse Creatures - Credit: Archant

Actresses as celebrities are far from from a current phenomenon as the next production by OVO at the Maltings Arts Theatre in St Albans demonstrates.

Playhouse Creatures by April de Angelis gives an insight into the first actresses to set foot on stage and how they gained celebrity status but suffered very similar challenges to modern-day actresses.

After 17 years of Puritan suppression under Cromwell, Charles II is crowned and brings his glittering court and new permissiveness from France.

He insisted that women played the female roles in the two theatres which immediately opened on his arrival. But while the women appeared to gain independence with a real profession, in most cases their stage lives only lasted as long as their looks.

Director, Janet Podd, said: “April de Angelis brings these women vividly to life with short and often hilarious scenes from some of the most ludicrous Restoration plays, performed in the highly stylised manner of the period.

“These are interspersed with hectic goings-on in the tiring house (the dressing room) where we become drawn into the realities of the actresses’ lives and the precarious nature of their existence.”

She added: “There is much comedy in the piece but the actresses were to a large extent seen as playthings for men, hence the title, Playhouse Creatures, and struggled to gain respect for their talent, financial independence and control of their lives.”

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Playhouse Creatures runs from next Thursday, May 7, until Sunday, May 10, starting at 8pm. Tickets are £10/£7.50 from www.ticketsource.co.uk/ovo.