Even if it weren’t as five-star fabulous as it is, Carmel Dean’s Well-Behaved Womenwould get top marks for being so spectacularly well timed. So shall we say 10 stars? I’m comfortable with that. To have a show so exquisitely aligned with the most pressing social and political issue of the day is a gift. To have it so brilliantly performed is another. Well-Behaved Womenwent offon opening night. It was a joy to be there.
Zahra Newman, Ursula Yovich, Stefanie Caccamo and Elenoa Rokobaro in Into the Daybreak (Still I Rise) in Well-Behaved Women. Photograph © David Hooley
The title is a tease, obviously. American historian Laurel Thatcher Ulrich made the impeccable observation in 1976 that “well-behaved women seldom make history”. She was writing about Puritan funeral services and didn’t mean to incite revolution but the phrase took flight.
Dean’s cycle of 14 songs brings together an eclectic group of women through the ages, most but not all famous in their field. To make reference to a rather larger piece of music theatre currently running in Sydney (that would be Hamilton),...