Saturday, 7 October 2000

So Full of Brave, Oct 7, 2000

 By Kharen Harper and Somebody's Daughter 
Oct 7 2000

Reviewer: Kate Herbert

The women in So Full of Brave are just that: full of bravery. They are on stage in a show created by their company about their lives and the lives of other women who are or were prisoners at Fairlea.

The play, written by director/writer Kharen Harper with the cast, is a warm, gritty peek into the lives of a group of women who are in and out of prison.

Many are drug-users which is the major profile of women in our prisons. Some were abused by family and society. Others developed a revolving door relationship with prison. Teisha (Rachael Ward) feels safer inside than she does outside prison.

Meg, (Catherine Frith) a drug and alcohol counsellor, develops a relationship with Jazz, (Sam Davis OK) an ex-drug user and inmate. Viv (Karen Taylor)  is older and suffers, having given up her child for adoption as a teenager.

 Eddie (Debbie Murray) struggles to survive her dysfunctional family and change her life. Kym (Donna King) is forging a new life.

Billy (Toni T), still inside, tries to help Jane, (Niki Phillips) keep her kids and also attempts to keep in contact with her friends on the outside.

The play comprises of scenes, songs and direct addresses to the audience in the style of the 70s political and community theatre.

In the scenes the women struggle with their lives, addictions and pasts. The try to support friends in crisis and avoid reverting to old habits.

At the end, they are at a demonstration against mandatory sentencing. The cycle of arrest and incarceration starts new - even for a new inmate, Meg.

The scene is which Meg is strip searched is powerful as is the death of their friend, Jane. these women have seen a lot of death and suicide.

the passion and humour of the women make the show work both theatrically and emotionally. It is cheerful, funny, sad and political. The performances are raw but totally committed, engaging and energetic.

By Kate Herbert

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