Jessica Swale's Blue Stockings at the Globe 'a triumph'
Drama of Englishwomen's right to education dedicated to Pakistani teenager shot by Taliban
What you need to know
Jessica Swale's new play, Blue Stockings, has opened at Shakespeare's Globe Theatre, London. This is the first play the theatre director has written herself.
Blue Stockings is based on the true story of the battle fought at Girton College, Cambridge, in 1896 to earn women the right to graduate. The play focuses on four female students and their champion, Principal Elizabeth Welsh.
The production is directed by John Dove and dedicated to Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani teenager shot by the Taliban for going to school. Until 11 October.
What the critics like
This production at the Globe is "a triumph", says Libby Purves in The Times. It's an absorbing story and the freedom of open sky beautifully symbolises the thirst for knowledge – five stars.
"Swale writes with palpable vigour and leaves you astonished at the prejudices these educational pioneers had to overcome," says Michael Billington in The Guardian. Dove also directs the play with elegant simplicity and there are some shining performances.
Blue Stockings is "a lively and eye-opening piece", says Paul Taylor in The Independent. The play gives you a powerful sense of what the women were up against, while being alert to the divisions among the female crusaders, and reminding us, as in the case of Malala Yousafzai, that this is still a live issue.
What they don't like
This is an intelligent, thought-provoking play about an important issue, "but it's ill-suited to the bear pit of Shakespeare's Globe", says Tim Walker in the Daily Telegraph. A small, cosy theatre is really needed for this bookish chamber piece, which requires subtlety and delicacy of its actors, rather than the Big Acting the Globe requires. ·