Eve: A Balancing Act

Sun 11th – Sat 17th August 2013

reviews

Jazz Adamson

at 09:56 on 13th Aug 2013

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As a platform for discussion, this production excelled. The dialectical structure (two flatmates at loggerheads) made it ideal ground for the exchanging of opposite viewpoints and expansion of argument. As a piece of theatre, however, it fell down in a number of places including vibrancy and conviction. This is a show about what it is to be a woman, yet the conversation revolves around men, and the props consist of high heels, chocolate and wine. It is arguable that this is a celebration of ‘female charm’, but a production which finds the essence of woman in such gender stereotypes is at risk of seeming hollow; especially when the conclusion is that “being a woman is complicated”: the complications aren’t shown. If they are, they apparently revolve around men and shoes. Yet parts of this production are really very good, and it certainly sparks debate.

Sherry Duggal is unconvincing at points; in the opening scene she sings along to her ipod, “tonight’s gonna be a god night…” and we’re not sure. The same goes for her outburst, “I love oral!” The anger which should almost be palpable in the big argument (between Sherry Duggal and Aria DeMaris) is difficult to see – they stand far away from each other and shout with little conviction. Yet as the psychotherapist, Duggal excels. Her continued attempts to get DeMaris to open up are tender and funny: “let it all out…I’ll stay right here on my side of the panties” (the divider between their separate halves of the room). Both can be very funny actors; a notably amusing moment was Duggal’s seizing of an apple and attempt at biting into it sexily, as she imagined Eve. Her stubbornness in the face of DeMaris’ character’s attempts at an academic feminist debate is comic – she suggests painting Paris Hilton as a symbol of female empowerment, whereas DeMaris suggests Joan of Arc.

As the play progresses the characters warm up. Once they begin to talk to one another meaningfully the script becomes more interesting since they both have valid points to make. It is a shame, therefore, that while this excellent dialogue is taking place, Duggal is busy brushing DeMaris’ hair, as though that were an accurate image of the behaviour of two girls. This is as untrue and clichéd as a pillow fight in lingerie. The affected ‘girlish’ behaviour and interests of the women (mainly men and how to get them) undermined what could be a powerful discussion concerning women, the ‘body clock’ and the fear of loneliness. Instead we were presented with feminism-lite; a tentative feminist discourse wrapped up in pink cellophane so as to appeal to girls and not to scare men.

There was much that was though-provoking and considered, and certain parts were funny. It is worth looking past the flaws in this production and watching it for the debate it inspires.

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Flo Layer

at 10:31 on 13th Aug 2013

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Within the decadent maze of The Merchant’s Hall, we are finally ushered into the luxurious set of ‘Eve: A Balancing Act’. On one side, wine is set out on the table and a full length mirror demands the corner and on the other, artistic chaos, an easel surrounded by canvasses and paint splashes. The dividing line? A pair of laced “panties”, for this is the stage for a debate between two Canadian women on the question of the ‘real woman’. This is a show with sincere intentions, yet consequently felt overwrought. Feminist theories are suggested, discussed, fought-over, cried-over in such a way which, unfortunately, just left me cold.

The script is nothing if not comprehensive. In the mere space of forty-five minutes we are subjected to discussions of original sin, successful women in society, temptation, oppression and sexuality. By no means were opinions shoved down our throats, yet the the play felt contrived. It’s all a bit too convenient that Sherry Duggal’s character is a psychoanalyst and so can easily slip references to “Freud’s psycho sexual development” into her pre-party discussion. There are, however, moments of genuine warmth and clever humour mixed up the in whirl of debate; “behind every good woman is an ex-husband”.

Duggel and Aria DeMaris’s character, an ethereal painter with interminable issues against men, clash with admirable and enjoyable vivacity. Duggel’s vanity and her belief in the empowerment of women through embracing their sexuality, grates against the intellectual efforts of DeMaris who, out of fear, rejects expressing typical "femininity". They are certainly consistent characters, but I don’t necessarily sympathise with either of them. The succession from wine-fuelled confessions to Sex In The City-style screaming matches and tearing arguments to a peaceful bonding is unfolded at a double fast-forward pace, and before you could attach any sort of feeling to the characters you are forced to watched them scream and shout at each other.

As we reach the end, the script is saturated with clichés: you must “find yourself” before you can truly be a woman, and being a woman is, it is concluded, “being able to feel”. Despite the irritating nature of the script, the use of spontaneous poetry in the final scene certainly left us with a warming and encouraging sense of feminine solidarity. This is certainly a piece with worthy direction, but unfortunately is not engaging enough to be completely memorable.

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