GITHA Sowerby died in 1970, believing her work had been forgotten.

You can understand her thinking, given the example of her 1924 play The Stepmother being granted only one private performance in the West End, then nothing but silence in this country until… …Leeds writer and actress Pat Riley was so inspired by discovering Sowerby’s work during her theatre college course that she wrote Looking For Githa, the first ever biography of the North Eastern playwright, feminist and Fabian Society member.

Northern Stage and Northern Broadsides have revived Sowerby’s first play, 1912’s Rutherford And Son, and the Orange Tree, Richmond gave The Stepmother its ridiculously overdue full-scale British premiere last year.

How apt that Pat Riley is the first face you will see on the Studio stage, knitting steadily and stoically as she plays the role of grouchy aunt Charlotte Gaydon, whose struggles will grow with a failing memory.

Sceptics might wonder why a play disappeared so rapidly from view, but while The Stepmother is not a patch on Rutherford & Son, its neglect and obscurity is as baffling as the longevity of The Mousetrap.

York Settlement Community Players make a habit of picking plays outside the familiar, and this northern premiere of Sowerby’s work gives you the chance to see why Githa stood out from the (male) crowd in her era and still has much to say to a modern audience.

Put men in their place or, rather, stand up for women and seek to re-define their roles as she did, and you can surmise why male-run theatres chose to ignore her. Ninety years later, The Stepmother is staged in York International Women’s Week, and director Maggie Smales notes how “many of its conversations are still familiar in spite of massive legislative and social change affording equal gender rights”.

Lois Relph (Settlement debutante Claire Morley) has unexpectedly inherited a tidy sum from the sister of wastrel Eustace Gaydon (James Martin, in his first role for four years). He duly weasels his way into marrying her and then takes control of her money with outrageous arrogance and poor financial judgement.

Not only does Lois bond with her wilful stepdaughters (Anna Soden’s Monica and Lucy Simpson’s Betty), but, devoid of love from pipe-smoking Eustace, she sparks with lover Peter Holland (Simon Arm-Riding). She runs a business too, with all the acumen so lacking in the insufferably cocksure but useless Eustace. Stern lawyer Mr Bennet (James Witchwood, from the York Terror Trail) keeps him in his scornful sights. Sam Osman’s Cyril Bennet has rather gentler eyes for the progressive Monica, who is Sowerby’s portent for the future.

Maggie Smales works with a young and mixed cast that both links the play to today and brings further freshness to Settlement’s ranks. Coincidence or not, the female performances are generally better than their slightly stiff male counterparts, although National Youth Theatre member Sam Osman is a delight.

A table by a chair to place Eustace’s cup of tea and a louder bell to summon the maid (Catherine Edge) would have benefited Jill Maris’s set, but the Art Deco glass and lighting are perfect. Likewise, Helen Taylor’s costume designs, which would not be out of place on the London stage.

Some things change, as Githa foresaw. Others don’t, and still nothing beats a reviving cup of tea to end the day and the play, as Githa knew.

The Stepmother, York Settlement Community Players, York Theatre Royal Studio, until March 15. Box office: 01904 623568 or