Why do women so frequently get short-changed by male authors? Since its foundation Touch Theatre has believed that female playwrights create the best, most complex and challenging roles for women. This year we are presenting Abi Morgan’s Splendour, an examination of the dying hours of a harsh, autocratic dictatorship. Four female characters – the dictator’s wife, her best friend, a photo-journalist and her interpreter – are trapped together in the imperial palace as a social revolution speedily closes in and encourages our characters to reveal more and more of themselves as the external pressure mounts.
Abi Morgan’s most famous piece of work is the screenplay for The Iron Lady, the biography of Margaret Thatcher. It was lavishly praised for its ability to steer away from stereotypes and easy caricatures, so be prepared for the warts and all.
To play these four parts, we have assembled a terrific cast. As Micheleine, the dictator’s wife, Oriel Bennett brings the inner strength and toughness last seen as Vi in Touch Theatre’s 2018 production of Caryl Churchill’s Escaped Alone. Ory is no stranger to audiences across West Cornwall, having starred in and directed many productions (CDDG, TAODs and others). Genevieve, Micheleine’s longest-standing friend, is played by Touch Theatre regular Tracey Hughes, who received an award in the Cornwall Drama Association awards for 2017-18 for her performance, as, amongst other things, an ape, in our production of Madeleine George’s Precious Little. Maybe an ape is not the best preparation for the passive observer of events that is Genevieve, but we have enormous respect for Tracey’s range and ability to immerse herself in different characters. To play the other two characters we have two newcomers to the company. Liesel Parris, a stalwart of TAODS, takes on the role of Kathryn, a photo-journalist who has come to get an interview with and image of the great dictator. Finally, Steph Randlesome, last seen in a production by CDDG, has the challenging task of playing Gilma, an interpreter who cynically mistranslates much of what she has to do while filling her pockets with anything from the palace that she can lay her hands on.
We are currently planning for rehearsals. Watch this space for more images and up-dates on progress.