Mikron Theatre marked one hundred years of women’s fight for the vote with a bounding turn at St Mary’s Allotments in Leamington Spa
Sunflowers reaching for the heavens and truly bulbous pumpkins made for a bountiful entrance to this allotment patch on the fringes of town.
An audience pitching up with foldable chairs, sun hats and buggies also made this an idyll of plenty, with a record crowd of more than 250.
What followed under blue sky and fluffy white clouds was outdoor theatre at its finest. Voices projected to the very last seat many rows back in the car park-turned-auditorium, the canal-faring theatre company told the tale of women’s fight for the vote with gusto, humour and boundless energy.
Historical accuracy was here too, the story of a less-well known Pankhurst, Sylvia, reignited with spark, charm and conviction in an utterly belting performance by Daisy Ann Fletcher in the lead role.
In context, this is some of the best theatre I have seen.
The hopes, attitudes and misconceptions of 1918 were boomed forth in a merry, breathless whirl that enveloped all ages of the crowd, from those in buggies to those who pursue gardening as a way of life.
Remarkably, Mikron did this for nothing more than a whip-round.
In a way, the massing created by a core belief in a greater good was reminiscent of the hundreds that gather for the local Parkrun every Saturday in a sports field overlooking the allotment.
With a gazebo knocking out cake, spring rolls and tea in white china, it was the most sociable occasion in memory at the allotments.
Song, dance and audience interaction helped Mikron’s multi-talented quartet –completed by James McLean, Christopher Arkeston and Rosamund Hine – kept the audience in their hands as they flitted between scenes and characters.
Above all, it was fun. As Revolting Women unfolded, Sylvia’s dedication had taken the crowd in its wake, all the way to Parliament.
A hundred years on, Mikron is telling the suffrage story in unusual and improvised spaces across the country, aided by a vintage narrowboat and van, the travelling troupe’s primary modes of conveyance.
No elitism here, just their mantra of ‘theatre anywhere, for everyone’.
Sylvia would surely have approved.