Lucy Vickery

The Wow factor

The Wow factor
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Next month, a formidable band of women will take to the stage at the Southbank Centre for the Women of the World Festival, now in its second year.

The line-up includes veteran Annie Lennox, who will perform with rising stars Katy B, Jess Mills, and Brit Award winner Emeli Sandé as part of an eclectic menu of music, comedy, poetry, debates and workshops that cover topics ranging from domestic violence to vajazzling.

But if Eighties icons and trends in personal grooming leave you cold, there is plenty more on offer. Top of my list is Irish actress Lisa Dwan’s (above) adaptation as a one-woman play of Beside the Sea, a French novella by Véronique Olmi (published in an award-winning English translation by Peirene Press). This remarkable and courageous book takes us inside the head of a young woman who goes to the seaside with her two small sons and kills them. Olmi’s sensitivity and artistry are such that we are able to understand this abhorrent act, on one level at least, as a manifestation of, albeit twisted, maternal love.

While a journey into a filicidal mind might not be everyone’s idea of a good night out, don’t be put off by the difficult subject matter; Dwan is a powerful actress (her hair-raising performance of Beckett’s Not I at this event last year wowed audiences) and the text packs a mighty emotional punch as well as raising important questions too often shied away from.

Women of the World Festival runs from 7–11 March; Beside the Sea is in the Purcell Room on 7/8 March.