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‘Snatches: Moments From 100 Years Of Women’s Lives’ | TV Review There's so much more

Snatches Review
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Summary

A series of eight 15-minute monologues, each reflecting on a specific “moment” in history over the last 100 years as it impacted women’s lives. The series was commissioned by BBC and curated by the Royal Court theatre, and aired on BBC4 as part of their season to mark the anniversary of women’s suffrage.

Looking back at the United Kingdom over the last hundred years, it would be easy to assume that equality for women has come a long way in that time. The first half of the century gave us the vote (over the age of 30 in 1918, over 21 in 1928) and the second half gave us the pill (1961 for married women only, all women in 1967). The BBC series of monologues Snatches shows us many of the other milestones on that journey, a journey that we are still a long way from finishing: achieving the right to vote was just the start, and there is so much more to equal rights.

The double-edged title has been a little off-putting to some, but it serves as a one-finger gesture to those who expect decorum from civilised women. The monologues themselves are bold, so in my opinion, the title fits. Women can be earthy and elegant – in this and any century – and if an eye-catching title can draw people to consider what it has meant to take the steps we have, then so be it.

The subjects of the Snatches monologues are as broad and varied a short series can allow: Pig Life and Multiples are about stories which changed British law, Outside is about a woman looking back on a life of activism and Compliance starts the series with a #MeToo story. They are set in the present day, the 1930’s, 1960’s, 1970’s, 1990’s and the near future. And they cover a wide sampling of Britain, including one location which isn’t British any more: it’s all part of women’s social and legal history in this country.

The writing and the performances are perfect, with tension and emotions (anger, fear, pride, etc.) used with precision so that any viewer can step easily into those shoes. All the names are credited below, and I cannot pick out any particular writer or actor who did best as such. The two Snatches episodes where I particularly felt for the speaker were Pig Life and Multiples, which spoke to my experience as wife and parent. And in the fifteen minutes it took to tell their stories, I got to know those two women: I became proud of them for speaking up and being part of serious change.

The aspect of Snatches I had very mixed feelings about was the set, which – again – was different for every episode. Some simply complemented the theme of the monologue; others were more complicated (pretentious?) and others were very simple. In my view, the simple sets were most effective: the suffocating duvet in Pig Life was almost too distracting.

Of course, not every aspect of the female experience was captured in this series, but they are just Snatches, after all. There was nothing about equal pay, women in business, transgender or queer women, or women MPs. If you attend the Million Women Rise march that takes place in London each year, look at the banners and listen to the rally, you can get a feel for just how numerous the issues are.

The fight for progress – in many aspects – continues: I watched the Reclaim the Night episode and wondered what we had learned in forty years. The final episode, Tipping Point, is set in the near future and this served to show that progress may have passed some milestones, but has not reached any conclusion.

If you think your eyes are already open to so-called “women’s issues” in the UK – or open as far as they need to be – please do watch out for these little programmes. I’m not ignorant in the slightest, but they all taught me something and made the subjects thoroughly relatable.

 

Episode 1 – Compliance

Ann (Romola Garai), an actress, recounts her meeting with a powerful producer in a hotel room. Written by Abi Morgan, directed by Vanessa Caswill

Compliance

Episode 2 – Outside

Jacqueline (Corinne Skinner-Carter) looks back on her life of protest, challenging the colour bars in the 1940s and marching for a better world. Written by Theresa Ikoko and directed by Vanessa Caswill.

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Episode 3 – Bovril Pam

Linda (Jodie Comer), a secretary in the 1960s, starts to explore her sexuality. Written by Vicky Jones, directed by Vanessa Caswill

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Episode 4 – Pig Life

A monologue inspired by women who spoke out about their shocking experiences, to make marital rape illegal in England. Ivy (Shirley Henderson). Written by EV Crowe, directed by Vanessa Caswill.

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Episode 5 – Reclaim the Night

A monologue capturing the moment when Eve (Liv Hill) a 19-year-old in Leeds in 1977 decides she won’t be confined to her house. Written by Charlene James, directed by Rachna Suri.

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Episode 6 – Pritilata

A monologue inspired by the story of Pritilata Waddedar (Kiran Sonia Sawar), who campaigned for Bengali women to get the right to vote in 1930s colonial India. Written by Tanika Gupta, directed by Vicky Featherstone.

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Episode 7 – Multiples

The experience of Jen (Siobhan Finneran) accused of killing her child, who fights to overturn her conviction. Written by Zinnie Harris, directed by Rachna Suri.

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Episode 8 – Tipping Point

Leonie (Antonia Thomas), a pregnant woman in the future, is being pursued on social media. She contemplates what world she will be bringing her child into. Written by Rachel De-lahay, directed by Rachna Suri.

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