Image credit: William and Jenny Copeland.
(Accessed from http://www.leeds.gov.uk/Carriageworks/)
Many associate Florence Nightingale with reforming nursing and Public Health. This story however is about Florence, her family and her privileged life as a young woman in Victorian High Society. Despite this she looks for a way out from the predicted role (and for all women) she expects to fill.
Letters, recently discovered, between Florence and her cousin, Marianne Nicholson, are the basis for the source to be adapted on stage. Florence and Marianne spent a lot of time together with family. Leeds' Lotherton Hall has a connection with Gwendolen, Marianne's youngest daughter and Florence's goddaughter. Gwendolen married Frederick Richard Trench G Gascoigne of Lotherton Hall.
The audience is transported back in time when Marianne, played by Harriet Seedhouse, narrates chronologically the events leading to Florence's divine vision to help others. Her determination to carry out this leads to consequences which then were different to the expectations in society at the time.
Jane McNulty beautifully transfers the text from the letters for creating 'Our Cousin Flo' and is aided by visuals to illustrate the life Florence lived and her vision with some of the cast as spirits.
St Mary's Youth Theatre performs this production well under the direction of David Sheridan. The creative team, courtesy of Steve Limb, Dave Rossendale and Steve Idle, compliments in unison 'Our Cousin Flo'. Lotherton Hall continues to celebrate the connection with talks and tours. There is another opportunity to see this production again, open air in its grounds, during June.