Tuesday, 24 May 2022

The Ladies

 


Lady Eleanor Butler (1739-1829) & Sarah Ponsonby( 1755-1831) are well known in North Wales as the famous Ladies Of Llangollen. Famous just as much today as they were in the 1800s, these two recluse eccentrics moved to Wales from Ireland to set up a home together at Plas Newydd in what was always presumed ( but never really proved) in a lesbian relationship.

Last night I went to see the premier of Celebrated Virgins, a new play by Kati Elgin Salt . From the get go the play informed the audience that it was going to redress history by telling the true story of Eleanor and Sarah from their privileged Irish start to their goldfish bowl existence in the picturesque Welsh town of Llangollen .
I will try not to give much away but the play has two very differently paced halves. The first is set in Ireland and effectively sets up the meeting of these two amazing women where as the second , and lighter half looks at their lives in Wales. 
There is much marching around the stage by the cast , which is a bit distracting , but the love affair between Eleanor ( Victoria John) and Sarah( Heather Agyepong is rather movingly told to be honest but I must admit Emma Pallant steals the show with her duel handed role as Sarah’s adopted mother and as the Ladies’ foul mouthed personal Irish maid who kept the two women afloat financially when she died in service .Her asides to the audience provided the much needed humour of the play. 

It’s such a privilege seeing the opening night of a new play. 

I’ve already twitted my thanks to the actors involved and I hope it does well.

Two old broads with tiny feet


37 comments:

  1. I would definitely go see it!

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  2. Llangollen's most famous residents. I went to see their house after crossing the aqueduct in a narrow boat.

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    1. I’ve arranged to go with my friend who came with me last night

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  3. The play sounds wonderful. It is so much fun when you can catch the opening night of something like that!

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    1. Opening nights have a nervous energy all of their own

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  4. Sounds interesting and glad you enjoyed it. I always find it strange that, although homosexuality was a criminal offence, lesbianism has never been. Perhaps it was thought women wouldn't/couldn't "do that sort of thing". (Imagine pursed lips, crossed arms under a large bosom and sotto voce speech, a la Les Dawson) xx

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    1. And “ sisterhood” was much more accepted

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  5. Your play reviews cause me to look out for the production coming my way. I saw Come From Away because of your review. Thank you.

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    1. I adored Come From Away , it still remains the most uplifting musical I have ever experienced .
      I cry with happiness even at the thought of it

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  6. Anonymous8:02 am

    Thanks for your description of the opening night of a new play. It’s kind of you to send a tweet too-I send emails/cards when I enjoy something too. Off to teach my voluntary craft class this morning which usually produces some good chat and laughter as well as a take home make. Catriona

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    1. I’ve only kept on Twitter to either complain or compliment services and events

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  7. I gave you a mention as a film critic on a blog the other day John for the Emma Thompson film coming up in which at 63 she goesv full frontal. I know you will be looking out for it - I look forward to the review. As two the ladies here - I have read about them inthe past when I used to visit Wales a lot.

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    1. Mz Thompson loves getting naked in reality pat, as poor Stephen fry testified to recently , as she ran at him naked at a party l

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  8. Sounds like a fun evening

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    1. It was , I went with a friend who I can talk to well , we laughed a bit too

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  9. That sounds amazing. Yes, don't some old sketches of people show them with teeny weeny feet!!

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    1. It was an interesting thought provoking evening

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  10. Sounds like a very nice evening. 2 great and famously recorded dames finding happiness together many years ago is touching. The goldfish bowl aspect adds to the allure of their story.

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    1. They were big fish in small welsh pond

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  11. I'm sure I would love it-Looking back now I wonder whether "the sisters"who mum called them -were really a couple xm

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    1. Anonymous6:51 pm

      After our husbands died my friend and I decided to share a house together but it doesn't mean we're gay!

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    2. Exactly x

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    3. The women’s correspondence was studied and it wasn’t clear there was evidence that a loving relationship was indicated …. although many of their visitors ( and they had Wordsworth and many other luminaries of the time) suggested otherwise .
      The women also dressed as men which in today’s eyes complicates things

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  12. I need to go see a play this year. I miss that form of entertainment.

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  14. Sounds like an interesting play!

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    1. I knew of them as most welsh people do , but it was nice to see and feel the possible emotion behind the tale

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  15. I have heard of tweeting but not twitting. I thought twitting might be when you put a whoopee cushion on a pompous person's chair.

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  16. The interesting thing about these two women is that their lives link to other's lives. It took a tremendous amount of courage to live life on your own terms back in the day, but, remarkably, people did. That's heroic, really.

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    1. Yes Debby …there is some evidence that they both refused to be married off that’s why they “ eloped”

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  17. I love the theater. I bet it was a great evening

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    1. It’s so nice to be back watching shows

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  18. Barbara Anne5:07 pm

    I'm so glad you and your friend were in the audience!
    Hope your new chair arrived safely.

    Hugs!

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