Theatre review: Scarlet Letters

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“A” is for adultery, the woman in the dark velvet dress tells us before sitting down to read our palms.

Star rating: ***

Venue: Arthur Conan Doyle Centre (Venue 290)

In an intimate library setting with seating for only four audience members, it gradually becomes apparent who she is and how she’s connected to Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter and its protagonist Hester Prynne. Like Hester, this woman is struggling with the way the world sees her, and the letter A is marked on her hand, as it was marked on Hester’s clothes. However, she has managed to transcend time, and talks to us from the present, about how life has and hasn’t changed for women since the 1600s when she was born.

Michaela Shuchman is engaging as our mysterious host and speculates on how shame has come to define women over the years and, in some instances, continues to do so.

Patrick Ross’s thoughtful script has a good structure that slowly reveals its story, although the second half becomes a looser collection of philosophical musings. However, by the time we’re all doing a “prayer” together at the end, the women next to me is crying – a testament to a small but affecting story in an atmospheric and immersive setting.

Until today. Today 1pm

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