Until 17 Feb 2019

Review by Jamie Wright

Presented at the 2019 Adelaide Fringe Festival

While it might seem unthinkable that women were denied the right to serve in the military as doctors only a hundred years ago, that’s the stark reality we are presented with as “Hallowed Ground” unfolds. The remarkable Dr Lillian Cooper found a way around this, joining the Scottish Women’s Hospital in the Balkans during World War One. In doing so she paved the way for generations of women who longed for nothing more than to put their talent and skills to use in serving their country when it needed them the most.

Four performers – Chi Nguyen, Verity Charlton, Carolyn Bock and Helen Hopkins – portray four women from four generations, each with their own story to tell and who each faced a different set of challenges to reach their position. The stories are all based on the real-life experiences, adapted for the stage by performers Bock and Hopkins, and most take the form of monologues – but they also have the characters break from this style of performance to interact with each other; this provides some good, contrasting lighter moments between what is (understandably) the descriptions of what it’s like to treat the casualties of war.

Performances are excellent throughout, though the script does get a bit harder to follow at about halfway – and the side story about developing methods to treat malaria feels a bit out of place, though it is darkly funny. But overall this is a powerful, insightful and engaging piece that blends history and social commentary to tell stories that are such an important part of our country’s past.

Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)