The little heard tale of the ‘Herring Girls’ is the topic for this outdoor community theatre show from Crude Apache, now seeing the light of day after a Covid-enforced delay.
There is a sprawling 19-strong cast and a four-piece band, between them telling of the – largely Scottish migrant – community of women that worked on the quay at Great Yarmouth and Lowestoft, often travelling from as far as the Hebrides for each fishing season.
In 1936 with their wages cut 3000 women launched a successful strike for better pay, the stacks of fish rotting on the riverside putting pressure on their employers to comply with their demands of a shilling a barrel for gutting and packing.
The tale, written and directed by Panda Monium, also weaves in the drama of a fishing boat in peril and the slowness of some in the union movement – as well as those in business – to accept women as equal.
The story is neatly told, with the Punch House Band’s music bringing atmosphere and backing to a handful of songs.
Caitlin Woolrich is the standout performance as Esme, the housemaid who returns back to her family and community to lead the strike.
Some performer’s are a little suspect in places and a few of the actors struggle to be heard above the Kett’s Heights winds – partly volume, partly blocking more suited to a enclosed theatre – but these don’t much mar the enjoyment.
- We Will Stand continues touring: Thursday 30 June, Heigham Park, Norwich 7.30pm; Friday 1 July, Waterloo Park, Norwich, 7.30pm; Saturday 2 July, Town Walls, Blackfriars Road, Great Yarmouth, 2.30pm; Sunday 3 July, Cow Tower, Norwich, 2.30pm.