This weekend we were provided with a truly community-based production at the Lyric Theatre, Bridport of, ‘A Common Woman.’

Written in 1984 by Mary Rensten and skilfully directed by Margie Barbour, ‘A Common Woman’ tells the story of a typical 1980s family caught up in the politics of the cruise missile protests at Greenham Common.

Wife and mother, Jean, played by Barbara Darnley, is gradually influenced by her daughter Ann, played by Ellie Taylor, into protesting at the Greenham camp but, all to the disquiet of her patriarchal husband, Bill, played by Andy Hern and to the annoyance of her teenage son, Richard, played by Harry Lockett.

Both would much rather see Jean at home doing the cooking and cleaning and generally looking after their needs, rather than attending to her own.

Alongside, the family scenes, we are transported to everyday life at the camp where the discomforts of living under canvas seem insignificant compared to the women’s camaraderie and sheer determination to bring about peace.

Barbara Darnley was outstanding as the wife and mother, giving a truly authentic performance as the typical housewife of the time; caught between domesticity and her own fledgling political ideas.

The other family members were also played tremendously well evoking both the politics of the time and the typical exchanges between a close-knit family with polarised views, resonating with family life today.

Bridport and Lyme Regis News:

Tamlin Morgan, Romla Walker and Mel Still all encapsulated the feeling and aura of the Greenham camp with convincing performances and strong vocal quality.

The play was interspersed with original songs that were written by the Greenham Common women. These were beautifully performed by local singers and members of the cast led by Jane Silver-Corren and added a true feeling of camp life.

It was a momentous play written about a momentous time where women felt they had a legitimate voice and a sense of power. Indeed many of the cast were active participants at Greenham Common which added to the unique feeling of sisterhood and unity which was generated at Greenham.

The production was truly a community event, supported both by Dorset Community and Culture Fund and Bridport’s Car Boot fund, and the theatres of Bridport, the Lyric and the Arts Centre.

As well as official support the play benefited from the wonderful contribution by JSW and Jamie Isaacs for the superb lighting which separated the Greenham common from the family kitchen and picked out the singers in the Violet and Orange gates, and their stunning banners, made by Maud Kilczynskyi. 

Local community members and businesses came forward with furniture, props and knowledge of the Greenham experience; members of the Camera club took photographs of the production and the youth workshops associated with the event. 

It was a privilege to support such a special event, forty years on from the protests and its original showing at The Kings Head Theatre in Islington and a reminder of the importance of what true, peaceful protest represents and it’s valuable place within a healthy democracy.