Feminism, Feuds and Freedom

18th June 2024

Most Notorious - Feminism, Feuds and Freedom

By Hilary

“Fight like a man”- a phrase I've heard all too many times from teachers, arrogant teenage boys, internet personalities, and more arrogant teenage boys. To untangle the term, to “fight like a man” is essentially used to motivate people into fighting for what they believe in using the glorified male species as an example and can be used interchangeably by replacing “fight” with perhaps “think” or “act”. My point is, if you despise this phrase as much as I do, I can almost guarantee that you’ll find your feet at a standing ovation after watching new musical Most Notorious from Ollie Clark and Lou Waller of which my most treasured line is “Fight like a girl!”

This timely new musical expresses the lives of real-life female pirates: Anne Bonny and Mary Read. In the short space of ninety minutes, I grew fond of some loving personalities but also infuriated by some vexing ones, all while learning about the great hurdles and historical tales of the society defying female pirates. A variety of tropes and issues were explored as we took a deep dive into this lovable play.

Walking in, I found the full house was already buzzing, full to the brim with excitement and I could tell that I was in for a treat. After a sudden dimming of the lights, the musical started, with the rich and resonant timbre of a single cello silencing the room. Without spoiling it too much, Most Notorious produced many more unforgettable musical moments including modernised sea shanties, beautiful vocals, and exceptional live music. My jaw found its way to the floor often due to the actors' and actresses' amazing vocal control despite performing rapid choreography.

Another area the show did not fail to impress me with was the comedy. By the middle of the play, I’d lost count of moments of laughter I shared with the rest of the audience. Witty one liners were cleverly paired with fitting percussive effects and to top it off, the performers playfully interacted with audience members throughout which not only brought a smile to my face, but also created a sense of connection. Therefore, it was no surprise when the performance ended with a lengthy round of applause. However, for any young musical enthusiasts who are eager to watch it, I’d note beforehand that there is occasional use of swearing to convey comedic effects, but it shouldn’t startle anyone over the age of 12!

It was an enjoyable time getting to know the characters' minds and ways, despite them being so different. In my eyes, each character represented a different problem in society which gave the play breadth while also addressing a lot of standing social issues. With this came a character or two with heart wrenching backstories and unforeseeable twists. There were times where I just wanted to hug a character, and times I wanted to throw a chair at one. The characters were brought to life by not only the talented cast, but also the other things used like the use of costumes and vibrant lighting to reflect their emotions. It was intriguing to see the stage turn into a passionate red during scenes and songs of romance or hues of deep blues to set a sombre feeling.

Most Notorious wonderfully delivered the powerful message, that women are as capable of achieving whatever they want as much as a man. It was truly inspiring to see such an important relevant topic like sexism portrayed through music and fun.

Supporting Most Notorious and watching it at least once will help it to reach its highest potential and I doubt it won’t soon become a Broadway or West End classic.

Most Notorious was performed at The Bedford in Balham, from 9 - 12 June 2024.

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