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She Sells Sea Shells - Scandal and Gallows - 5***** - One4Review

She Sells Sea Shells – Scandal and Gallows – 5*****

| On 06, Aug 2019

This was fringe theatre at its very best. Scandal and Gallows Theatre Company bring the life story of the 19th Century palaeontologist Mary Anning to Edinburgh and tell it in such a riveting way that I was gripped from the start. What begins as a present day 71st Anniversary lecture at the Palaeontology Society celebrating the life of Mary Anning, is transformed into 19th Century Lime Regis as straight-talking Mary emerges from the theatre audience and her fascinating life is enacted on stage.
From a young age Mary is trained by her beloved father to seek out fossils and her diligence in finding and cleaning these treasures brings in much needed income when her father dies. However, as her findings become more significant – she discovered the world’s first Ichthyosaur – and intellectuals actively seek her out, Mary’s inability to break out of poverty is in stark contrast to the men who take credit for her findings and sell on her discoveries for large profits. In the 19th Century a poor woman stands little chance of being taken seriously or be given access to the museums which proudly display her findings.
Antonia Weir is fantastic as Mary Anning and is ably supported by Charlie Merriman and Emma MacLennan who play all the supporting parts from Mary’s family to the intellectuals who benefit from Mary’s findings. Despite Mary’s burning fury and heartbreak the dialogue was often very funny and it was a delight to hear the story of this almost unsung heroine who changed the rhetoric about prehistoric life.

Reviewed by Rona

Underbelly Cowgate
Until 25th August (not 12th)

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