An Honorary Man
Turning the Handle
Philippa Hammond delivers two glimpses in this show, separated by 1,500 years but linked by a theme of women bowing to the will and needs of men. In the first she is Hypatia of Alexandria, a director of the library there. Or a pagan whore, if you believe the Christian hierarchy. Hypatia is, however, a full-blooded and beautiful woman, aware of the pleasures of her body and the delights of her mind. So much so that her students have voted her “an honorary man”. She accepts this dubious accolade with gentle irony. As she accepts her murder and mutilation with the inevitability of the conflict between pure intellect and religious dogma.
In the second piece, we are in Edwardian England and she is married, against her parents’ will, to a prototype film maker whom she supports in everything, even stripping for his “what the butler saw” movies. After losing her husband, she continues her career to support her children, having stoically traded her home life of Hampshire parties and Home Counties ease.
Hammond is served well by two three-dimensional, literate and dramatic scripts written by Thomas Everchild and she displays brilliant talent in interpreting them for us. It is spellbinding and entertaining, heart rending and humorous. An hour was all too short.