For virtually as long as humans have existed, men have felt entitled. They’ve subjugated women by dictating what they can and can’t do. Let Me Tremble addresses the disparity and calls out the bad behavior for what it is – inappropriate, anachronistic and inexcusable. Front and centre is the church, but the play has to do with all who have been preyed upon. It addresses the women who have been pilloried, raped and murdered.
As you can imagine, Let Me Tremble is strong and powerful. The language is, at times, necessarily severe. It starts with men of the cloth calling the shots and women acceding to their demands, but one by one they refuse to do so any more. Interestingly, the kickback begins with one of the priests finding the degradation all too much.
The feminist work, directed and designed by Steven Mitchell Wright, and performed by a cast of 10 (seven female) doesn’t follow a readily understandable narrative. But the imagery and the stark black, then red costuming remains potent throughout, even if the language used is difficult to get your head around.
Let Men Tremble was inspired by Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter, published in 1850. You might recall from the book that heroine Hester Prynne is forced to wear a scarlet letter “A” on her dress, so the townspeople can shame her. One of the characters in Let Men Tremble is similarly attired.
The piece sits comfortably in the trend of women fighting back, which has been the mainstay of the #MeToo movement. It’s a battle cry against the patriarchy, which says the time for change is now.
Let Men Tremble is on at Theatre Works in St Kilda until 25 August 2019.
Other reviews you might enjoy:
- One and the Other (La Mama) – theatre review
- Puffs (Alex Theatre) – theatre review
- Hand to God (Alex) – theatre review
Alex First is a Melbourne based journalist and communications specialist. He contributes to The Blurb on film and theatre.