Based on actual events that were documented in Ray Barron-Woolford’s book The Last Queen of Scotland, Ray has dramatised his work and put together a play called Liberty, an engrossing, informative and astute study of the life and work of an extraordinary woman called Kath Duncan which led to the eventual setting up of the National Council of Civil Liberties, now simplified and called Liberty.
Duncan played by Emily Carding possesses great capabilities as a character actress and her skills have been finely honed. Supported by Alex Reid as Fred Copeman, Reid also narrates certain sections of the play to advise of timelines and adds a brooding, strong physical presence on the stage that added gravitas to the story.
Other members of the cast notably Amy Brown as George Lansbury give accomplished performances with the script interspersed with rousing songs and period ditties. Liberty comes into its own in Act 2 where the the panic being felt by the ruling classes, fear of the rise of fascism, popular dissent by the poor at the level of social injustice felt by the homosexual community, and blatant class warfare are examined in fine detail as Woolford includes in characters’ dialogue actual verbatim testimony and transcripts from the House of Commons. Here also the ‘circus’ that is the House of Commons is highlighted.
Liberty tells an amazing story about a period in English history and society where the need for a change in the law, where people were still being sent to prison to do hard labour using acts passed back in the days of Edward III was more than a requirement, it was a necessity. Riveting stuff offering an opinion that the powers that be are as obtuse now as they were then. Liberty is part of the Deptford Heritage Festival.