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World Enough and Time (Park Theatre)

Jumping through three eras, all-female company Fluff Productions presents Sarah Sigal's latest play about women and politics

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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Jess Murphy as Anne
© Karla Gowlett

These days women seem to have it all - or do they? That's something examined in Sarah Sigal's latest play World Enough and Time from all-female company Fluff Productions at the Park Theatre which jumps between three eras: 2014, 1936 and 1646.

You could recommend the show alone for a sensational, hilarious turn from fur-clad Rebecca Dunn as upper class 30s fashion journalist Pamela. With an eyebrow arched and impeccable comic timing, Dunn recounts how she is reluctantly drawn into politics when asked to interview the King of England's American "companion", Wallis Simpson.

It's light relief for the pressure cookers stewing two other sets of women, centuries apart.

Social pressures during the English Civil War - do Christian values square with sheltering an accused witch, or treasonously support Cromwell's army - morph into supposedly mundane pressures now - stay slim, dress stylishly, work 5am to 1am, have a family, be the whole "package".

Best sketched out are the binds upon the modern women, a pair at extremes of life "success". High-flying Celia (Jess Murphy) squeezes media appearances and family life into a busy work schedule, lending a spare room to her university friend Lucy (Katie Bonna, co-writer of Edinburgh Fringe First award winner Dirty Great Love Story) who cracked under the strain of inner-city teaching and a drink problem.

Their friction builds as they struggle with separate pressures: "Must be nice. To be able to do that. Go for a coffee in the afternoon. Turn your phone off," snipes a harried Celia. Astounded, Lucy replies: "I'm unemployed. It's what people do when they're unemployed."

The actresses double up parts in 1646, making the parallel plain enough. A dignified Murphy's Lady Anne harbours Bonna's half-sister and suspected witch Joan in her household while the men are off fighting.

Also doubling up as a hideously judgemental stylist and Celia's mum are serving women Bess (Sarah Kameela Impey) and Meg (Yvonne Riley), slowly coming to question their blind loyalty to royalty.

Director Justin Audibert has teased out detailed, well-considered performances from all five. Admittedly, World Enough and Time doesn't break much new ground. But the characters' clashes between cherished ideals raise some important questions - and it's brilliant to see more chunky parts for women to sink their teeth into.