The Times 28/8/69
Tony Parker’s Some Women, originally called Five Women and written as a Wednesday Play more than two years ago, emerged on BBC 1 last night a character short. Mr Parker wants us to admit – as we come to know his people – that there, but for the grace of God, go we. The character omitted is not, it seems, necessarily the most shocking, but the one least likely to compel this admission.
Some Women is a series of four talks between Mr Parker and women who have been in prison. They are played by actresses who worked out their own scripts from his book. Tony Garnett’s production treated what emerged as a series of interviews punctuated by the noises outside the interviewees’ homes. The sense or reality flags only at Fionnuala Flanagan’s unexplained changes of dress in a series of meetings presented as a continuous session.
Mr Parker’s characters are defeated by life. One repeatedly commits the same crime in the same inefficient way: since she was in a prison mental hospital 20 years ago she has not seen a psychiatrist. The others were rejected by parents; one when she was 12, was the victim of an incestuous father. A half-caste girl imprisoned for repeatedly escaping from approved schools is the only one who does not accept an unhappy fate. Cleo Sylvestre failed to catch or convey the hysteria her words suggested. Edith MacArthur, Natalie Kemp and Fionnula Flanagan disappeared entirely into the parts they played.