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The Patient Gloria review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘cathartic and anarchic’

Gina Moxley in The Patient Gloria at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Lara Cappelli Gina Moxley in The Patient Gloria at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh. Photo: Lara Cappelli

In 1965, Gloria Szymanski, a 30-year-old American woman, allowed herself to be filmed while engaged in therapy sessions with three different therapists to illustrate their different approaches.

Intended as a teaching tool, the results were screened publicly as Three Approaches to Psychotherapy (also known as The Gloria Films) – without her consent.

Irish performer and theatremaker Gina Moxley uses this as the basis for a playful, funny and feminist analysis of the way that female desire is so often minimalised and stigmatised, and the nature of the patient-therapist relationship.

Moxley, clad in covetable gold boots and a suit, plays all three therapists – the laconic Carl Rogers, the dismissive Fritz Perls and Albert Ellis, who seems more interested in his own voice than Gloria’s.

She begins by crafting herself a makeshift dick – a cock made of cloth; since dicks loom large in the world of psychotherapy and life in general, as well as this show.

With musical accompaniment from Jane Deasy, Moxley and Liv O’Donoghue, as Gloria, re-enact snippets from each session, giving more weight and space to her experiences than the therapists did at the time.

The results are cathartic and anarchic. Moxley dives hungrily between O’Donoghue’s legs. Graffiti penises pepper the back wall.

While John McIlduff’s production sometimes feels pleasingly wayward and layered, it also sometimes feels tangled.

The play’s most potent moment, however, is also one of its most straightforwardly presented: an account of the lack of sex education in the Ireland of Moxley’s youth, the small, casual acts of harassment she faced over the years, and the saddening fact she had an abortion fund.

Crocodile Fever review at Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh – ‘gleefully dark and gory comedy’

 

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Verdict
Cathartic and anarchic show about psychotherapy and patriarchy
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