The Woman and the Car, Ship’s Cat Theatre Co. | Review

Don’t have time to read the full review? Click here for a quick summary of the who, what, where and wine of this production.

Dorothy “Dottie” Levitt is a feminist icon in the motor racing industry. Dubbed ‘the fastest girl on earth’ in a time when women were considered incapable of driving a car, Levitt set multiple world records, advocated for other women to learn to drive for their own independence, and unapologetically lived life on her own terms. But the physical demands of motor racing and the near complete ostracism she experienced due to her lifestyle came at a cost, and Levitt died a recluse at age 40.

Written by Mark Langham and directed by Cam Turnbull, The Woman and the Car celebrates the achievements and long-term influence of Levitt on the feminist movement, and unflinchingly explores the tragic consequences that can result from being so ahead of one’s time.

In addition to the character of Levitt, portrayed by Lib Campbell, there is also Levitt’s racing partner and rumoured lover Selwyn Edge, played by Alexander Spinks, and Isabel Savory, another feminist pioneer of the same time period, portrayed by Zoë Crawford. Levitt and Savory are not recorded as knowing each other, but her addition to the story gives Levitt the ally she needs to tell her story properly, in addition to adding some comedic flair.

On the point of comedic flair, this is a play that changes genre drastically between curtain open and close. Campbell gives a beautifully layered performance as Levitt, initially portraying her attitude towards the society that rejects her as indignant, angry, but hopeful of improvement. By the end, the true toll of it on her mental health is exposed in her excessive use of vices including alcohol and morphine, and withdrawal into solitude later in life. Spinks is frustratingly convincing in his representation of the women’s-ally-but-not-really persona of Edge.

Set in Levitt’s apartment, we see comfortable furnishings, knick-knacks Levitt has picked up throughout her life, and many bottles and glasses. More important to the story is what it represents, Levitt’s independence. As long as she is single, it belongs to her but married it transfers automatically to her husband, a point Levitt makes repeatedly in frustration. Levitt also makes a point of wearing trousers, which contrast with Savory’s bustled dress that is more typical women’s garb in the early 1900s. No stone is unturned in this performance in asserting Levitt’s right to be treated equally to men of the same time period.

Despite being set over a century ago, The Woman and the Car reminds us of just how many gendered issues remain constant in the here and now, and of the women who got us to this point. It’s refreshing and engaging, both hilarious and devastating, and well worth a visit to 107 Projects in Redfern.

Purchase your ticket to The Woman and the Car here.

Sauvignon Blanc | Wine Pairing

A good Savvy B is light, fresh, acidic and fruity. Maybe some minerality and grassiness in there but it’s not as essential as the citrus, stone fruits and melon flavour notes. It’s fresh take on long-standing issues is what makes it a delightful pairing for The Woman and the Car.

My Pick: Hesketh 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, Adelaide Hills, SA

This light-bodied and dry Sauv packs lime, grapefruit and apple into every crisp glass.

Pick up a bottle for $17 here.

The Woman and the Car, Ship’s Cat Theatre Co. | Tasting Notes

Aussie Season11 to 18 December, 107 Projects Redfern, Ship’s Cat Theatre Company
Ticket $$25-35
WriterMark Langham
DirectorCam Turnbull
Theatre Type & GenreHistorical, Drama
See it if you likeFeminist stories, historical fiction, comedy
Other Info
Wine Pairingname of wine
Criteria for Wine PairingAcidic, fruity, aged, regionality
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