Sisters, Dogs, People, and Female Protagonists. Busy week.

Last week I saw The Tyler Sisters by Alexandra Wood at Hampstead Downstairs. Last night I saw The Delights of Dogs and the Problems of People, written by and starring Rosalind Blessed – at the Old Red Lion.
The Tyler Sisters was directed by Abigail Graham, Dogs and People by Caroline Devlin. Plays by women, directed by women.
In The Tyler Sisters, Caroline Faber, Angela Griffin and Bryony Hannah played…three sisters. As the middle child of three myself I looked forward to seeing alternative views and angles to my particular ones.
(My autobiographical novel Paper in the Cracks is my three sisters story, though the last third of the book is set in Jerusalem at the time of the Six Day War, so I suppose the book is not, actually `just` about sisters.)
Both plays set me wondering, once I`d digested and appreciated some great acting, dynamic directing, and fluent and entertaining scripts (both plays) about the Rules and Regulations of play writing. In my plays, and ones I see.
`Show Don`t Tell` is drummed into writers. Indeed, in my writing groups, it`s a piece of advice I find myself giving frequently.
Yet both the above plays relied a great deal on both people in the play, and the audience being told a great deal. Straightforwardly told not shown, I mean. And it did not seem to matter. Interesting. The first 5-10 minutes of `Dogs and People` was virtually a monologue delivered by talented Duncan Wilkin. Such things can and do work.
After the show, I encountered Rosalind B and Duncan W in the bar, and we talked a little. We swapped basic stuff, as you do, and just before I left we got on to the paucity of strong parts for women actors who are 40 ish or more. I can confirm that The Song of Deborah, Candlesticks and Xanthippe all have central characters who are women, and in each play one or more are 40 or 50 plus. Finally, I shared my pet obsession, which is the fact that time and again male writers use the `trope` of the dead wife or mother – often wife, frequently mother, in their plays – and this also deprives older actresses of roles!
On the tube home, in a free Evening Standard, I found to my pleasure that playwright Chris Bush has written a Faust story for a female protagonist. “ “Five years ago, I decided to stop writing male protagonists for a while.”
I read on. But then I read that the female protagonist has, among other things, a task of coming to terms with the fact that her mother was burned as a witch when she was a toddler…..And I just thought: here we go again.