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“Commendable degree of ambition”

There’s a commendable degree of ambition to House of Mirth’s new play Chihuahua, but the execution isn’t there to match it.

Phil Bartlett and Sarah MacGillivray’s show splices together two stories: the narrative of Edith Wharton’s 1905 novel The House Of Mirth – the book that gives Bartlett and MacGillivray’s company its name – and a present-day drama set in Edinburgh.

In Wharton’s novel, Lily, a flighty, high-society New Yorker, falls apart as her financial fortunes fade and her social status suffers. In Bartlett and MacGillivray’s modern parallel, Becky quits her job in a coffee shop and flies to Spain to start a new life. It doesn’t work out. MacGillivray, under Barton’s direction, plays both Lily and Becky, flipping between monologues for 50 minutes straight.

There’s plenty of good stuff going on here – commentaries on the social pressures that come with age, and on the mental health problems that can accompany feelings of failure – but that doesn’t save Chihuahua from becoming tedious.

MacGillivray is a competent performer, switching between frustrated Edinburgh lass and angsty 1900s New Yorker nicely, but the play just isn’t interesting enough – structurally, directorially, or dramatically – proceeding in chunk after chunk with little jeopardy and even less humour.

Production Details
Production nameChihuahua
VenueAssembly Roxy
StartsAugust 1, 2018
EndsAugust 27, 2018
Running time50mins
AuthorPhil Bartlett, Sarah Macgillivray
DirectorPhil Bartlett
CastSarah Macgillivray
ProducerHouse of Mirth
VerdictAmbitious but ultimately unrewarding new one-woman play from young company House of Mirth
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Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

Fergus Morgan

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