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Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World (Susan Elkin reviews)

Fantastically Great Women Who Changed the World continues at Theatre Royal Stratford East, London until 17 July 2022. The show then visits the Marlowe Theatre, Canterbury (26-20 July) and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (4-29 August).

Star rating: four stars ★ ★ ★ ★ ✩

It’s inspiring, upbeat and affirmative. And it has a clear aim of showing girls and young women that they too can change the world.

Based on the book by Kate Pankhurst, Chris Bush’s stage adaptation gives us Jade (Kudzai Mangombe), an 11 year old lost in a museum which has a gallery of greatness where she meets Amelia Earhart, Jane Austen, Frida Kahlo and many more.

Mangombe, playing over ten years younger than her age, is totally convincing. She is upset because nobody notices her, has low expectations of her own potential and is distressed by the break up of her parents’ marriage. It’s a lovely performance as she gradually becomes more positive.

The women who wander into the gallery gradually convince her that every one of us changes the world simply by being in it although making a real difference is rarely straightforward.

It feel as if the musical Six has been an influence (two of the cast of five are former “Queens”). Characters wear radiantly irreverent costumes and there are lots of flashing lights and neon signs (design by Joanna Scotcher).

The songs in various styles (lyrics by Bush and Miranda Cooper, music by Cooper and Jennifer Decilveo) are delivered with passion, energy, lively dancing and – most importantly in a show like this – impeccable diction so that children in the audience really do learn who these women are and what they’re remembered for.

Especially memorable is the number by three Marys: Seacole, Anning and Curie …

Read the rest of this review at Musical Theatre Review:

Author information
Susan Elkin Susan Elkin is an education journalist, author and former secondary teacher of English. She was Education and Training Editor at The Stage from 2005 - 2016
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