The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women at Brixton House

The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women at Brixton House explores the experiences of women – past and present – within the criminal justice system. At its heart is a question: is that system fair? And its power lies in the fact that this question is posed by women who have direct experience of the system.

It opens with a baroque spectacle – stories related by various goddesses associated with violence. Dramatically this is an ambitious exercise in counterpoint as the audience walks round the space listening to the various stories simultaneously.  But it sets the scene for a much more down-to-earth analysis and dissection of the judicial process and in particular the conduct of trials.

In fusing together the lives of women who have been criminalised in the past with those in the present, it makes the point that the criminal justice system through the ages has treated women unfairly. Through personal experiences and stories we are taken through a system riven with pointless and alienating rituals (for example wigs and robes) which is much more a stage for barristers to perform their own dramas, than an objective search for truth and justice. A system designed to intimidate the defendants with many forms of bias built into it.

The play also asks whether there is another way. Prison destroys women who so often find themselves there because they acted in self-defence, were driven to desperate measures to protect their children, or were themselves victims of crime.

This is a raw and passionate piece of theatre which gives a glimpse into the lives of, and gives a voice to, women who are moving through the criminal justice system. 

It was commissioned by Clean Break – an organisation founded in 1979 by two women in prison who believed that theatre could bring the hidden stories of women who are criminalised to a wider audience – in association with the London International Festival of Theatre (LIFT) and Brixton House.

The Trials and Passions of Unfamous Women runs from 14 – 22 June in Brixton House, 385 Coldharbour Lane, SW9 8GL

Tickets from 15 to £22. For further information go to


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