THE Trouble with Women Festival of Plays celebrating the 100th anniversary of women gaining the vote pulled in the crowds during its ten-day run.

Under the ambitious and forward-thinking Kendal Community Theatre, five very different plays directed by Chris Taylor, Jayne Davies and Emma Rucastle were performed at various Kendal venues: Antigone, How the Vote Was Won, Big Fat Pig, Handbagged and Changing Times.

KCT's artistic director Chris said he'd had plenty of feedback: "One woman said she was 'deeply touched' by Philip Byfield and Eleanor Brook's performance in Antigone where he as Tiresias, and she as his guide, worked together as one voice, while Antigone (Julie Jackson) and her sister Ismene (Isabella Reid) skilfully kept the tragedy at fever pitch from the outset.

"How the Vote Was Won was described as 'fast paced and relevant' and Big Fat Pig by Emily Unia was noted for its #MeToo violence towards female politicians now. Audiences appreciated the humour of the one and the brutality of the other."

Chris said he hoped people had enjoyed the plays.

I certainly did.

Yes, one had a good time, one did, watching Moira Buffini's cleverly crafted Handbagged, which mischievously speculates on the relationship between two of the 20/21st centuries most powerful females: Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and the Queen.

The play eavesdrops on several of their tete-to-tete’s over tea and biscuits, their respective engages, which could have - and probably did - discuss issues from Mrs T's first election win, the miners’ strike, the Commonwealth and South Africa.

Sue Gilchrist played Mrs Thatcher, Patricia Barnicott was Queen Elizabeth 11 with the alternating Prime Minister and Queen, Mags and Liz, courtesy of Stella Coxon and Susan Haydock. Adding the odd "yippee" to the play was Deborah Powell as United States President Ronald Reegan with Liz Lockwood deftly dry-humoured playing Her Majesty’s entertaining press secretary Michael Shea.

All the performers did a good job keeping up with the script which fairly zips along at times and overlaps between the characters.

Although Handbagged was a well acted piece, for me the real triumph was Janice Wilson’s Changing Times, a short play about a well to do Edwardian married couple in Kendal: Lydia, played by Deborah Powell, and Monty, performed by Stephen Lockwood. Here were two fascinating characters. Stephen excelled as the wonderfully repetitive Monty, businessman and head of the household. Lydia was portrayed marvellously by Deborah, bursting with energy as the wife, mother and general glue that holds everything together on the home front while on the cusp of massive changes for women.

A clever device was the way they interacted reading the correspondence from Monty's Mother, which gave another perspective on the suffragette movement, as well as questioning the socially appropriate friendships of her daughter in law.

Directed by Emma Rucastle, the whole play was beautifully observed and brought in Monty’s dear Mama at the conclusion just as Lydia heads off to a vote for women rally with an accompanying entourage: their nanny, cook and neighbours.

The characters and setting of Lydia and Monty have plenty of mileage and if I were Janice I would revisit Changing Times and make it into a full length piece. It has huge potential. Sharp and witty, it left me wanting to know more about their world.

Overall, the comments Chris Taylor said he valued most was from a number of actors and audience but especially from professionals Jayne Davies and Julie Jackson: "KCT gives opportunities and trains those not normally accepted in drama groups, and stretches and develops beyond their comfort zone those who are accustomed to acting and produces excellent results.”