Dublin Theatre Festival: The Patient Gloria

Review by Joanna Kelly

In California, 1964, a young woman by the name of Gloria Szymanski agreed to be filmed in session with three therapists each exercising a different approach to psychotherapy. The intention was for these films to be distributed to schools and colleges for educational purposes, however, unknown to Gloria, they were generally released and shown in cinemas all over the United States. Here, Gina Moxley admirably gives Gloria a chance to rewrite the picture history painted for her. A divorced mother to young children, Gloria was deeply honest and wholly herself in these interviews, the kind of woman that ‘60s America saw to be unfit and duly shamed. Gina Moxley gives Gloria back her voice through the empowering performance delivered by Liv O’Donoghue.

Portraying all three male therapists, Moxley creates three homemade penises to help her become the characters. With great humour she becomes each despicable man, so fully flawed themselves but protected from society thanks to the appendage between their legs. Zoe Ní Riordáin provides the rocking soundtrack to the side of the stage, in appropriate grunge attire and providing a sort of narration interspersed with angry musical refrains that hark to the likes of Joan Jett. Liv O’Donoghue dazzles in a pink gúna as the chainsmoking Gina, with a flawless accent and an energy that perfectly reflects Gina’s own personality and the air of “f*** them all anyway” she undoubtedly had following the release of “The Gloria Films”.

Andrew Clancy’s set design is stunning, with the ‘60s fully embodied and a close replica of the real session room. The luxurious drapes hang high from the ceiling, and Sinéad Wallace’s powerful lighting design pulses to the rock sounds emitting from Ní Riordáin’s guitar. The impact of the Rorschach Test rippling over O’Donoghue’s body at one point is a powerful image at one of the many high velocity moments in the performance.

Climaxing in a compelling explosion of feminist values, the reclaiming of the name of the G spot, and a spit on all men who sold out women for the own success, this show left every audience member bursting with a renewed energy to make a difference. This show couldn’t have come at a more important time, and Gina Moxley has proven that no matter what role she takes on, she is not only a compelling performer, but a sensational writer, and just the right kind of mad.


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