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Women against the tide; WHAT'S ON: Theatre Review.

Byline: STEPHEN HALLMARK

PLAYHOUSE CREATURES. Criterion Theatre, Earlsdon, Coventry, until Saturday. Running time: 2 hours

POWERFUL performances by five female actresses drive this quirky take on the first women to grace the English stage.

Set in the turbulent times of Britain, from the beheading of Charles I through to the Restoration, the play charts the career curves of a quintet of actresses.

The tale follows budding Elizabeth Farley, whose career is cut short by pregnancy; Rebecca Marshall, undone by the enmity of a courtier; Nell Gwyn, on the up thanks to ambition, skill and luck; and Mary Betterton, who ages out of her appeal.

And meanwhile all the jolly Doll Common wants to do is sweep with her brush.

But the often comic play raises the curtain on male chauvinism as Farley reappears as a prostitute, begs "Twopence... I'll do anything... you can punch me... look..." and shows her bruises.

Only now she feels she is really a professional actress.

Filled with takes from some of the country's most famous plays, this kaleidoscope of a production shows the full colour of 17th century life.. 3 STAR

CAPTION(S):

PERIOD FEEL... Appearing in Playhouse Creatures at the Criterion Theatre are (from left) Jenny Holmes, Emma Withers, Debbie Relton-Elves, Michelle Proctor and (seated) Jane Railton
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 11, 2005
Words:213
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