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Festival Review: The Patient Gloria ****

Michael Cox reviews 'a tremendous production that moves as much as it provokes thought'.

The Patient Gloria is far and away the most interesting production of this year’s Fringe festival at the Traverse. The ‘Gloria’ in question is a real-life woman from the sixties who entered into therapy. Recently divorced, Gloria is trying to find her place in society, wanting to be a good mother but a liberated woman as well. She is approached by a director to be filmed engaging in her therapy sessions with three different psychotherapists and for the film to then be used as a teaching method for university students--Gloria agrees.

The play is far more than a dramatisation of these sessions. Led by Gina Moxley, who plays the three therapists and serves as a narrator/voice of consciousness (and who also wrote the script), the play is a deep look at women’s liberation: individually, socially and sexually. Gloria (brilliantly played by Liv O’Donoghue) is not the focus but instead the audience’s way of looking at the treatment of women by society—both in her time and in the present.

Director John McIlduff’s staging is terrific: constantly inventive and filled with memorable flourishes. Live music is performed by Jane Deasy, whose playing gives extra punch to the production and stirs Gloria’s inner-thinking. Add to this a clever stage design and the result is a brilliant looking production, one that also contains what must be in the running for this Fringe’s best visual gag.

Intelligent and funny, The Patient Gloria is a tremendous production that moves as much as it provokes thought.

Performs in repertory at the Traverse until August 25. Check the venue for specific times.

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