It’s wonderful that theatres are open again, but especially exciting when, through the pandemic, new initiatives have happened and are taking place.

What a privilege then to watch the inaugural production by the Headgate Young Company, and if its debut production of Blue Stockings is anything to go by, it has an award-winning future ahead.

Jessica Swale’s excellent, gripping play, tells of four young women studying at Cambridge in 1896 - but women are only just allowed to study, under no circumstances must they graduate.

The pressure the women are put under, the misogyny, the inequality and the sheer arrogance of the authorities is shocking, and protesting seems to make matters worse.

The story is told by an excellent ensemble, not a flaw in the casting. The central quartet are strong and engaging. Charli Piper is a wonderful Tess, Jasmine Wakefield hilarious as Carolyn, Charlie Scott-Haynes shining with intelligence as studious Celia.

But I must give special praise to Francesca Wilson’s excellent portrayal as Maeve, the most intelligent of the group, but who suffers when the reality of her working-class upbringing kicks down the door of academia. Chloe Thomas is a passionate, dignified Mrs Welsh, fighting for the women’s rights, and I loved Lily Vickers’s caring chaperone Miss Bott.

The men are equally excellent, even though they portray the snobbery and sexism of the system.

In case you feel too much sympathy that they too are caught up in the patriarchy, Jordan Wright captures brilliantly the arrogance of his character Lloyd, the audience audibly gasped at some of things said!

Isaac Seven Lock expertly portrays the dilemma faced by academic Mr Banks, losing his status simply by supporting the cause. It’s sad to note that some things have not changed.

Direction by Richard Bland and his assistant Tia Winterbottom, is deft and energetic, numerous scene changes are handled with skill and pace.

The set is wonderful, and Isobel Sullivan and her team have excelled themselves in costuming the production. I can’t wait to see this young company progress.