Aug 6 2017 | By More

★★★★☆ Warmly fierce

Traverse Theatre (Venue 15): Thurs 3 – Sat 27 Aug 2017
Review by Hugh Simpson

There is a deep humanity to Eve, at the Traverse, that makes it both challenging and reassuring, giving it an ultimate message of hope.

The National Theatre of Scotland’s production at the Traverse features playwright Jo Clifford in an autobiographical tale. How someone who felt they could not be the boy they were expected to be, became a ‘father and grandma’, as Clifford now describes herself, is the subject of an elegantly told and deceptively political play.

Jo Clifford. Pic David Monteith-Hodge

Comparisons with Clifford’s previous one-woman show The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven are always going to be unavoidable. While this play may not have the impact of that spellbinding piece of theatre, it is in many ways more accessible. It is also more subtly radical in its honesty and quietly overt self-determination.

Aided considerably by Susan Worsfold’s sympathetic and thoroughly effective direction, Clifford’s performance is entirely right for Traverse Two – big enough to fill the space, yet intimate and inviting.

While Jesus, Queen of Heaven tended towards the universal, this seems more of a personal piece. Its openly autobiographical nature could easily mask its tightly constructed nature, with Clifford and co-writer Chris Goode achieving a structure whose natural feel belies its craft.

uneasy reminders

Seth Hardwick’s projections are cleverly used, although Kai Fischer’s lighting and Goode’s music sometimes draw attention to themselves rather than complementing the narrative.

The quiet insistence and hard-won pride in the show do not mask what can be uneasy reminders for the audience. It reminds those of us lucky enough to identify with the gender we were assigned at birth that, however complacent we may be in our tolerance, and self-congratulation of how far we have come, that we all still make unwarranted, reductive assumptions.

Clifford makes it clear early on this is never going to be a story of a suffering boy who achieves a happy ending. Instead, it is something much more layered and much more real, with an inclusive warmth that conceals a fierce core.

Running time 1 hour 10 minutes (no interval)
Traverse Theatre, 10 Cambridge Street, EH1 2ED (Venue 15)
Thursday 3 – Saturday 27 August 2017
Daily (not Mondays)
Times vary, see website for details: https://www.traverse.co.uk.
Book tickets on the Fringe website: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/eve.
Traverse website: https://www.traverse.co.uk
Twitter: @traversetheatre@NTSonline@JoCliffordPlays
Facebook: TraverseTheatre.

Production tours to Glasgow Citizens: September 14 – 17
Tickets and details: http://www.citz.co.uk/whatson/info/double_bill_adam_eve/


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