Brought to the North of England for the first time, The Stepmother is a compelling tale of an independent woman in a man’s world which plays at York Theatre Royal from Wednesday (March 5).
The 1924 play is the work of Githa Sowerby, a name unknown to many but her work has been compared to the likes of Ibsen, Chekhov and Dickens.
It has been brought to the city by the York Settlement Community Players with a cast of fresh and well-established community performers, directed by York based St Peter’s School drama teacher Maggie Smales.
Also in the cast is Githa Sowerby’s official biographer Pat Riley.
“The Stepmother was written by Githa Sowerby in 1924,” said Pat. “At this time, even after decades of protest, only a very small proportion of women in this country – those who were property-owners aged 30 or over – had the vote, and the finances of many women were still routinely controlled by male relatives.
“I play the role of an elderly maiden lady in just this situation.
“As someone who has been acting in the amateur theatre since her twenties as well as having published Githa’s biography in 2009 with Arts Council funding, it is a dream come true for me to be able to act in this fine play by Githa Sowerby, and I thank YSCP for giving me this opportunity.”
The Stepmother follows the story of Lois Relph, an orphaned young woman, who inherits a large sum of money and marries a man called Eustace Gaydon.
Eustace’s marries Lois for her wealth. Having made Lois his wife and the stepmother to his two young daughters, what lengths will Eustace now go to in order to get his hands on her money?
The lead role of Lois Relph, a modern woman juggling the demands of being a stepmother to two daughters, running a business and overcoming the social prejudices of her day, is played by Claire Morley.
Her charismatic but manipulative husband, Eustace Gaydon, is played by James Martin.
Other performers in the production include Catherine Edge, Anna Soden, Lucy Simpson, James Witchwood, Sam Osman, Simon Arm-Riding and Rosy Rowley.
In 2013, audiences were treated to two Githa Sowerby productions being brought to many stages across the UK, including a tour of Rutherford & Son by the well renowned Northern Broadsides.
At the same time, York based writer and actor Hannah Davies produced Githa, a brand new one woman show, based on the playwright’s life and her struggle to become an established writer in a predominantly male world.
- York Settlement Community Players’ production of The Stepmother is at the York Theatre Royal Studio from Wednesday, March 5 to Saturday, March 15 at 7.45pm with a 2pm matinee on Saturday, March 15
- After the Tuesday, March 11 performance, there will be a post show talk with the actors, director and Githa Sowerby’s biographer, Pat Riley
- More details on the Theatre Royal website