Slick, polished show is a great night out

Kate Sheppard a rock star - who knew? Thousands of people, because this show has been playing around New Zealand for the last couple of years, and now it's Dunedin's turn.

Co-written by Luke Di Somma and Gregory Cooper, it's directed by Kip Chapman. Sheppard's life forms the framework:P a conventional but unfulfilling marriage, campaigns in the temperance movement and against domestic violence and eventually the big one - the huge movement that, in 1893, culminated in the Electoral Act that gave New Zealand women the right to vote.

The unfurling of petitions near the end of the show is breathtaking and a visual demonstration that, as one of the songs says, ''the world was made for women too''.

Esther Stephens, as Kate, is a powerful presence, charming yet defiant and persistent, commanding the stage effortlessly and always sympathetic.

Her polar opposite is Richard ''King Dick'' Seddon - patronising, fur-bedecked, ponytail-pulling and a thoroughly nasty misogynist. Geoffrey Dolan plays him with serious loathsomeness.

They are supported by the Gang Ensemble (Amy Straker, Phoebe Hurst, Cameron Douglas and Kyle Chuen) and the band (Andy Manning, Tim Heeringa, Emma Hattaway and Cameron Burnett).

There were very few vacant seats in the Fortune last night and the audience, of all ages and containing a fair number of feminists, had a great time.

This is a slick, polished show with loads of energy, striking costumes, plenty of noise and bright lights.

The combination of history, rock music and, if you look for it, comment on the contemporary scene is irresistible, and the standing ovation was well deserved. That Bloody Woman stands a very good chance of becoming a national staple.

Adult themes and language make the show unsuitable for children and younger teenagers, but for anyone else, it's a bloody good night out.

-By Barbara Frame

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