09:12 | 19th May 2019

News: UK

Fri 3 Mar, 2017
By Darren Waite

Without doubt, they were the most notorious girl gang Britain’s ever seen.

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6-22 APRIL 2017 Draper Hall SE1
'Without doubt, they were the most notorious girl gang Britain’s ever seen.” (Brian McDonald, The Gangs of London)


Clever, organized, devious & daring; they stole from the rich and gave to themselves. This is the gripping story of the all-female gang which terrorized London for over 100 years. A fascinating piece of lost women's history, only recently brought to light, the play focuses on the 1920s when the gang was at the height of its power—and when the events took place which would come to mean its downfall.

“Right here, right now, for one night only, I’ll tell you something special I ain’t never told no one before; I’ll tell you the truth.”
(Maggie Hale, The Elephant Girls)

The truth.

Told in a pub over a three-night bender by Maggie Hale--the gang's suit-wearing, bloody-knuckled, girl-chasing “enforcer”. She’ll tell you all--who they were, what they did, why it worked, how they got away with it, and how it all came crashing down. But do you trust the words of someone who’s made deception their stock and trade? Should you ask what you really want to know? Just how much are you sure you want to hear?

A story both captivating and repelling, humorous and terrifying. You won’t be able to look away.

The Background

The Forty Elephants, or the Elephant Girls, are an historic all-female gang which operated in London, England from the mid-1800s to about the 1950s. They were brought to light in 2010 by Brian McDonald who included them in his book The Gangs of London. Maggie Hale is both a conflation of several different historic gang members, and also entirely fictional. Unlike many male gangsters of the period, none of these women ever wrote their memoirs, and today any further information regarding these female “enforcers” is lost to time. Using, then, a combination of meticulous research, instinct, and imagination, this is a story both captivating and repelling, humorous and terrifying.

The Play

The Elephant Girls is written and performed by Margo MacDonald, and directed by Mary Ellis. The show premiered in June of 2015 at the Ottawa Fringe Festival, Canada, where it instantly became a runaway smash hit. In addition to rave reviews, every performance sold out 100% (in fact, it was the first show in the history of the festival to sell-out completely on advance sales alone). The show won all the top Fringe awards, including Best of Fest, Outstanding Production, and Critic’s Pick for Best Show. It was then moved into a larger venue and held-over by the Fringe for two additional performances, both of which also sold out. Most recently, it toured abroad to the month-long Edinburgh Festival Fringe. In Canada, the production swept the 2015 professional theatre awards in Ottawa, Les Prix Rideau Awards, winning Outstanding New Work, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Performance - Female. Margo also was awarded Best Actress—Professional by the Capital Critics’Circle.

Gritty, humorous, moving and edgy, this play consistently holds audiences captivated. It’s the kind of show people line up to see more than once, waiting for hours on the chance of a ticket to the sold-out performances.

This is much more than just a fascinating history; the show raises questions about identity, sexuality, poverty, education, the disenfranchised, the outcast and marginalized, the nature of violence, and more —all of which our society still struggles with today. What is ‘belonging’? What’s the meaning of ‘family’? What price should we be willing to pay for freedom?

This is a story which needs to be told, and one which once heard will not soon be forgotten.

Grab your tickets now : eventbrite-Elephant Girls

****“As soon as the lights come up, Margo MacDonald captivates, knowing how to keep an audience in the palm of her hand…astonishing.”
—Ashleigh More, Broadway Baby

**** “…the attention of the audience never strays and remains ensnared in a captivating story.
The play is brilliantly written and exceptionally performed…you will be left wanting to know more. Highly recommended.”
—Fringe Guru

“A gripping, psychological insight into gang life… MacDonald is captivating…The Elephant Girls evolves into a deeply psychological struggle between truth and fiction, as Maggie wrestles with the dangerous passion that bubbles beneath her carefully constructed bravado. Complex, subtle, and often deeply uncomfortable, this battle is fascinating to watch.”
—Jordan Shaw, The List

Winnipeg Fringe Festival, Winnipeg, MB, Canada—July 2016

***** “A fascinating story, anchored by one of the finest performances you’ll find at this year’s Fringe. Stampede—do not walk—to The Elephant Girls. … a ferocious, charismatically intense performance.”
—Joff Schmidt, CBC Manitoba

***** “MacDonald is captivating as [her character] Maggie slowly strips away her armour, revealing a history of violence, depravation and intensely steamy sexual experience…utterly entrancing…”
—Pat St. Germain, Winnipeg Free Press

Ottawa Fringe Festival & Hold-Overs, Ottawa, ON, Canada—June & July 2015

***** “Gritty, powerful, and excellently crafted... an astounding story... we are fortunate to have seen the world premiere of a show that will undoubtedly become a great success.”
–Kat Fournier, Capital Critics’Circle

“This outstanding solo piece wraps issues of power, class and gender in the story of Maggie Hale...Meticulously researched, lovingly scripted, and directed in economical fashion by Mary Ellis... Outstanding. This is the Fringe at its best.”
–Patrick Langston, Ottawa Citizen

“I guarantee you will not be disappointed. At times the show is hilarious, others heart breaking, and still others so horrific that you don’t want the it to stop because you can’t turn away.”
—Jeremy Dias, Capital Xtra

“Margo MacDonald is a force to be reckoned with... This was truly a performance that made me forget where I was. For that hour, I was in a pub in London, while a terrifying and fascinating woman told me an unforgettable life story.”
—Valerie Cardinal, OnStage Ottawa

“With her sustained working class London accent, her defiant physical stance, her gaze that could destroy innocence and her character’s strong presence...[MacDonald] produces a captivating and at times moving performance.”
—Alvina Ruprecht, Capital Critics’Circle

“This original show…could possibly become an important text in the Canadian repertoire.”
- Capital Critics’Circle

“Superb... a riveting hour.”
–John Sekerka, The Revue


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