Emma Bentley’s production To She or Not to She is a fun-filled one woman show all about Shakespeare and feminism. Performed in an intimate studio space at the New Theatre, Bentley takes her audience on a journey through her own experiences of sexism within the theatre industry.

Performed at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival, this piece is perfectly placed within STUFF’s exciting 2016 line-up. The use of modern pop music by famous female stars such as ‘Love Myself’ by Hailee Steinfield clearly set the tone of the piece from the offset; this production is all about the celebration of women. The main question raised by Bentley throughout is why a woman cannot play the part of Shakespeare’s Hamlet. In the 21st century, it is a wonder that this is a question that still needs to be answered, but Bentley successfully exposes the issues of gender inequality in this sector, from her experiences in school right up until graduating from drama school.

“It is refreshing to watch Shakespeare explored from a different angle”

The script is fast paced and cleverly interwoven with lines and phrases coined by the Bard. It is refreshing to watch Shakespeare explored from a different angle, with a modern and feminist approach. There were many jokes and puns within the script that perhaps only hard-core Shakespeare enthusiasts may have understood, but nonetheless it was accessible and incredibly enjoyable.

“Bentley’s charming and hilarious personality prevailed”

The performance is stapled by Emma Bentley’s passion and infectious energy. Although it was awkward when she forgot her lines a couple of times and needed prompting, Bentley’s charming and hilarious personality prevailed and held the piece together – even if improvisation may not be her forte.

“hopefully [Bentley] will continue to challenge the sexism ingrained within the performing arts”

I would highly recommend to keep a note of Emma Bentley’s name, as hopefully she will continue to challenge the sexism ingrained within the performing arts and perhaps she will fulfil her childhood dreams of undertaking a traditional part such as Hamlet, or even Richard III.


Lou Knapp

Image courtesy of the Nottingham New Theatre

To find out more about Emma Bentley and ‘To She Or Not To She’, follow her on Twitter.

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