Age of Arousal is set in London, 1885 - a time of political, emotional and economic change. Due to a population imbalance there are half a million more women than men. The suffrage movement is fueled by sheer numbers and these unmarried “Odd Women” are seeking financial independence and the vote.
Directed by TPM’s Artistic Director Ardith Boxall, Age of Arousal features the glorious ensemble cast of Eric Blais, Carolyn Gray, Patricia Hunter, Krista Jackson, Erin McGrath, and Maggie Nagle. The creative team includes Production Designer Leanne Foley, Lighting Designer Hugh Conacher and Sound Designer Mike Wright.
Age of Arousal focuses on five women who are bursting their corsets with unbridled desire. They are not the buttoned down repressed women normally associated with the Victorians, these women are eagerly exploring and pursuing an era of change - boldly embracing a new modern age of both sexual and economic freedom.
At the center of the story is Mary Barfoot, a sixty year old ex-militant suffragette running a school of typewriting who believes that through commerce women will discover their potential in society. Assisting her is her zealous sapphic love, Miss Rhoda Nunn. Together they embark on a revolution in business, asserting the need to master this world previously only available to men.
Then Mary’s cousin, the handsome and charismatic Everard arrives for a visit. A new age man, he is chock full of new notions about relationships and society. With this man in their midst, the women’s viewpoint is challenged and ideas and libidos clash for dominance. Passions erupt and confusion reigns!
The text of Age of Arousal is poetic and musical at times, with overlapping tracts of subtext spoken. The characters erupt with quick insults or a forbidden sexual desire through whispers and shouts while their bodies belie nothing – the dabbing of foreheads and fanning faces disguising their lubricious thoughts.
Griffiths calls this device thoughtspeak. In her words, “Thoughtspeak is a verbal eruption from the depths of self. As if Freud were sitting to the side, demanding that the characters say everything…thoughts come to the surface, they are whispered, shouted, quickly tossed off – they happen in a breath. To the characters, mere dialogue is not enough to contain the enormity of their emotional/intellectual struggle with the world.”
Age of Arousal is a sexy ensemble piece about the forbidden and gloriously
liberated self. Genre busting, rule-bending and ambitiously original!