Women on top

The Dominion Post - - Culture -

Tak­ing The High Ground, By Jan Bol­well, di­rected by An­nie Ruth, Bats Theatre, un­til De­cem­ber 9.

The lives of well-known sporting heroes are of­ten ex­am­ined through var­i­ous me­dia af­ter they have be­come fa­mous.

Tak­ing The High Ground Freda’s lover Muriel, also played by Reg­tien, and Freda’s climb­ing com­pan­ion Peter Gra­ham (Si­mon Paenga). Paenga, with El­iz­a­beth Har­ris, also plays sev­eral other char­ac­ters.

And while the women’s ef­forts at climb­ing are cen­tral to the play, it also shows much about their per­sonal lives, par­tic­u­larly Freda, in how climb­ing al­lowed her to be free from the Ed­war­dian stric­tures on women. Ed­war­dian clothes were also not con­ducive to moun­tain climb­ing and how Freda deals with this is very en­light­en­ing.

On an in­no­va­tive set by Lisa Muale, the actors move in and about it with great agility. The scaf­fold­ing al­low­ing for much cre­atively chore­ographed moves that sim­u­late moun­tain climb­ing ef­fec­tively.

Un­der An­nie Ruth’s di­rec­tion, all the actors give first-rate per­for­mances. There is a real un­der­stand­ing of the hard­ships and dif­fi­cul­ties these women faced, par­tic­u­larly in a male-dom­i­nated en­vi­ron­ment, and they han­dle the poignancy of the play’s end­ing with great sen­si­tiv­ity and feel­ing.

This is not a dry docu-drama about the achieve­ments of two lesser-known in­di­vid­u­als, but a highly cre­ative pro­duc­tion that is as en­light­en­ing as it is en­ter­tain­ing. – Ewen Cole­man

Tak­ing the High Ground looks at the ex­ploits and lives of two fe­male moun­taineers.

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