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‘The Patient Gloria’ Review: A Theatrical Remedy for Toxic Therapy

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I demand justice for Gloria.

That’s Gloria Szymanski, a 30-year-old divorced mom who within the Sixties agreed to be filmed throughout remedy classes with three main male psychologists. The recordings, initially known as “Three Approaches to Psychotherapy,” had been broadly distributed in the US with out her consent, even screened in film theaters as “The Gloria Movies.” (You possibly can watch them on YouTube.) She took authorized motion however was unsuccessful, and died of leukemia in 1979 on the age of 46.

So when Gloria glides throughout the stage at St. Ann’s Warehouse within the punchy, punk-rock play “The Affected person Gloria,” she does so performatively. Wearing a pale pink gown, white footwear and matching purse, Gloria, gracefully portrayed by Liv O’Donoghue, routinely sweeps her arms and tidily recrosses her legs, as if she’s conscious she’s being watched.

She shares the stage with a petite lady sporting a white-blond pixie reduce, a white button-down shirt, striped tie, grey slacks and chunky gold boots. (The stylish costumes are by Sarah Bacon.) “Liv will probably be taking part in Gloria,” this lady, Gina Moxley, tells the viewers in the beginning of the present, gesturing towards O’Donoghue. “I’m about to play three males,” she continues, brandishing a hand-sewn penis and scrotum full of “cotton wool and a few fowl seed.” She additionally introduces the bassist Jane Deasy, who annotates the manufacturing and offers musical accompaniment, together with thrumming covers of L7 and Van Morrison.

D.I.Y. genitalia and rock-show parts aren’t even probably the most stunning elements of this daring work of postmodern feminist artwork by Moxley, a Dublin-based playwright and actor. Earlier than the play is over, somebody will get swallowed by a vagina and an appendage will levitate.

Offered by St. Ann’s Warehouse, in affiliation with Moxley and Pan Pan, “The Affected person Gloria,” which opened Sunday, was first carried out in 2018 on the Dublin Theater Pageant. The present, directed by John McIlduff with a deliciously arch grade of satire, combines scenes of Moxley and O’Donoghue re-enacting snippets of the Gloria movies with Moxley sharing reflections of her personal experiences rising up in Eire within the Seventies.

Moxley recounts the sexual harassment and taunts she endured and the less-than-subtle methods misogyny was rampant within the tradition in an anaphoric record of statements all starting with the phrase “I Keep in mind,” recalling the poet Joe Brainard’s Seventies work “I Keep in mind.” (“I keep in mind when ladies had pubic hair,” Moxley says. “I keep in mind being informed I’d get what was coming to me.”) All of it’s terrible, however none of it shocking, particularly given the methods our world additionally nonetheless disregards, disrespects and polices ladies and their our bodies.

This swift 75-minute present feels rebellious not solely in its alternative of topic but in addition in its very construction, which is a playful, meta pastiche. When Moxley straps on her makeshift member and steps into the identities of the three therapists who interviewed Gloria — every his personal distinctive exhibition of male ego — the play seamlessly weaves its sharp commentary into the material of the true story. So when Gloria speaks to the primary therapist, a person who alternatively parrots all her statements again to her and sings a melody of smug, intrusive mm-hmms, the play loosens its pact with the transcript and interjects with justifiable ire: “Are you going to repeat what I stated again to me all by way of this session?” Gloria chides.

The road between the true dialogue and the editorialized bits of fiction isn’t at all times clear; the manufacturing conjures up you to query it, study it, see the place the boundary is. That it’s so faint proves how weird this story is.

One other line the play blurs, however to the disservice of the viewers, is between Gloria’s story and Moxley’s. There’s a disconnect, so at instances the 2 really feel as in the event that they’re in competitors, although tighter path of the transitions would possibly treatment that.

The performances are intelligent, from the actresses’ barbed line deliveries to their exaggerated physicalities. There’s a biting wit to Moxley’s appearing particularly. Her shrewd caricatures of those supposedly respectable medical doctors really feel justified, audits of their poisonous psychology. O’Donoghue neatly skips between realism and the livid surreality in Moxley’s script.

O’Donoghue additionally serves because the choreographer right here, additional decoding the characters’ inclinations by way of their motion. Gloria slowly sways, thoughtfully paces, writhes in pleasure and melts over the furnishings.

The set design, by Andrew Clancy, remembers a mix of a therapist’s workplace and a late-night selection present set: a darkish inexperienced couch for a consumer or visitor star, a cozy-looking reclining chair for a therapist or discuss present host, and a few mics, an empty stool and guitar stand off to the aspect for the musical visitor. After which just a few different items — a chair, a small desk, some potted vegetation — additional assist to cozy up the area. The unique Gloria Movies footage, pink, smoky Rorschach blots and suggestive budding flowers à la Georgia O’Keeffe and Prince’s “Lovesexy” album cowl are projected (audiovisual design by Conan McIver) onto a royal purple curtain drawn throughout the again wall.

It seems to be just like the sort of stage the place something can occur, and it’s: Right here a girl’s story, a girl’s proper to sexual want and the very names used for ladies’s our bodies could be reclaimed. The play’s homework task for the ladies: Go house and experience your individual pleasure. As for the boys? Hold the fingers clear, mouth shut and fly zipped — and perhaps attempt some remedy.

The Affected person Gloria
Via Dec. 4 at St. Ann’s Warehouse, Brooklyn; Working time: 1 hour quarter-hour.

Supply: NY Times

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