I was born a suffragette. I saw that the world treated women unfairly, and rebelled. The Women of England demand the Vote!

Written and performed by multi-talented South Australian singer, writer, actor, producer and director Joanne Hartstone, That Daring Australian Girl tells the true story of Australian-born Muriel Matters – an actress and elocutionist who found herself swept up in the British suffragette movement, becoming one of the leading figures of the fight for equal rights for women. Returning to Adelaide following a successful European tour, this knock-out show tells the gripping true tale of a woman armed with iron will who refused to back down in the face of adversity.

Hartstone delivers a disciplined and heartfelt solo performance, enchanting her audience with her impeccable tone and flawless accent. Particular scenes highlighted her exquisite skill in story telling, like the goosebumps-inducing scene where Muriel and her friend Tilly locked themselves to the grate of the house of Parliament – only to be forcibly removed, resulting in their incarceration. Reflecting on the abysmal conditions she endured where “every day seemed a month and night an eternity”, she found loneliness and longing had become her constant companions.

photo credit Tom Kitney

The Noel Lothian Hall is transformed into a time-capsule, whisking us back to the beginning of the 20th Century. Ornate furniture, a coat stand, a large travelling trunk, some chairs and dresser inhabit the stage. Designed by Tom Kitney and directed by Nicholas Collett, this considered performance is supported by era-appropriate music, slides, costumes and lighting. The versatile set even has a few surprises up its sleeve, with a large lampshade doubling as a megaphone for war-cries at a rally, and a travelling trunk becoming a train, a horse and cart, and even a dirigible air balloon complete with steam.

In this tour-de-force of heart, Hartstone brings forth the relevant and timely true story of Muriel Matters and her army of militant suffragettes on their campaign for the female vote. An empowering watch for all souls disheartened by the current political climate, this performance will have you leaving with a rush of gratitude for the women who paved the path for the rights we enjoy today, and implores us to continue the campaign until true equality is achieved.

★★★★½