Tuesday, April 26, 2016


The earnest and well-acted Echoes takes place in two times and places: Victorian England and Afghanistan, and present-day England and Syria. In both situations, a young woman has dreams. In both situations, she gets nightmares instead.

Braganca, Houlbrooke
Photo: Carol Rosegg
Tillie (Felicity Houlbrooke), the Victorian, wants to study the life cycle of flies, but ends up married to a dominating, humorless, repressive man who says that her "duty and sacrifice" in life is to have sex with him and procreate. She says, "Over the next three months, he makes sure I do my duty and sacrifice as frequently as possible. In fact sometimes he is so keen for me to do my duty and sacrifice that I worry his love of country may be too great."

Samira (Filipa Braganca), the present-day woman, wants to help build the Caliphate, but ends up married to a dominating, humorless, repressive man who already has a wife and finds his way around the rules of Islam. His first wife explains, "To get round the adultery laws, the fighters marry a woman for a week, then get a cleric to ‘divorce’ them. …He’s done it before.’"

Neither woman has a chance. The husbands are strong, violent men, and the woman are little more than slaves.

Echoes, written by written by Henry Naylor and directed by Naylor and Emma Buttler, is performed as alternating monologues. Despite being full of incident, the play never quite gels as theatre, and the politics are heavy-handed. Both husbands are one-dimensional creations; both women's situations come across as Women's Oppression 101 rather than the lived experiences of real individuals. Not to say that the stories aren't convincing, but they're not presented theatrically. The situations are effectively awful, but as lectures not a play.

Wendy Caster
(3rd row, press ticket)

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