Plan B Theatre Company never ceases to amaze me. I always leave their shows tearful, in awe of the performers, and grateful for the stories they produce in Salt Lake City. The world premiere of Jenifer Nii’s Suffrage was no different; it met and exceeded all of my expectations for a Plan B production.
Suffrage is the story of two polygamous sister-wives in the late 1880s, Ruth (Sarah Young) and Frances (April Fossen). The Deseret territory is under scrutiny by the federal government for the practice of polygamy, and at a time when Frances wants to blend-in, her younger, impassioned sister-wife Ruth is causing a scene fighting for women’s suffrage. During this time their husband Benjamin is in jail for polygamy, and tensions are rising between the two women as they try to care for the thirteen children and three other inept sister-wives in the best way they know how.
Young and Fossen give excellent performances that draw the audience in, making obscure historical references alluring instead of dry. Their onstage chemistry is electric, and they truly seem bonded as sisters by the end of the show. April Fossen’s talent really shines in a scene where Frances overhears men belittling Ruth and her politics, and she gives them a tongue-lashing so fierce that I turned to my seat-mate and whispered, “That was amazing.” The story of Suffrage is fascinating, but was bolstered by the talented duo wielding the script.
Everything in the production, from the hairstyles and dresses, to the amazing onstage desert scape, will leave you in awe. You will think differently about the impact government can have when legislating love and the power of sisterhood in trying times. Nii’s story reminds us that sisterhood has alway been powerful, and its power shines through in the unlikeliest climates and times. Suffrage runs through April 14th, and we can’t recommend the play enough.Get your tickets through the Plan B website before it’s too late.