Theatre review: Woman on Fire

Edinburgh Festival Fringe: Should we break the law to make the law better? This is the question at the centre of this inspirational one-woman show in which Claire Moore plays Lancashire suffragette Edith Rigby, a woman with deep convictions and impressive levels of determination to see them through.

theSpace on North Bridge (Venue 36)


“I’ve lived a life much criticised,” Edith says, “but a life not criticised is not worth living at all.” Facing violence, injustice and death over many years, she is beaten and abused by men at demonstrations and likens herself to a soldier fighting a war. She learns jujitsu, throws potatoes at anyone trying to justify inequality and, at one point, plants a bomb and sets fire to a building. “Victory at any cost,” she says, inviting us to consider whether women would be where they are today without actions that might be called extremist.

John Woudberg’s exciting
script is full of poetic language, as well as the sharp wit and defiant spirit of a woman prepared to risk everything for what she believes in. In her olive cord jacket and purple skirt, Edith might be dressed in the iconic colours of the suffragette movement, but she is otherwise the image of a middle-class woman of the time – yet one who uses her position to change the lives of future generations.

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Moore’s excellent performance captures the complexities of a fascinating, clever and funny woman, born ahead of her time. From “a little girl of principle to a lurking shadow in the night”; Edith’s story is a personal tale, but it also charts the evolution of the suffragette movement. It’s a compelling insight for anyone interested in human rights campaigning – or who simply appreciates a well-told story about a defining point in our history.

Until 26 August. Today 12:55pm.