Review: The Patient Gloria at The Traverse

Perhaps it is to be expected in a play about psychotherapy, but The Patient Gloria features a lot of cocks. We are greeted by the writer/director, Gina Moxley, asking the audience if they can see her. She’s been fading for years, you see, and now—as an older woman—has been rendered almost invisible. Perhaps the key to her visibility is the hand-sewn penis she is crafting as she waits for us to take our seats. Whatever it is, Gina is having the time of her life, radiating a twinkling charm—from her appendages to her golden boots. 

The Patient Gloria was inspired by the 1965 films Three Approaches To Psychotherapy. The films were used to teach psychology students, in the play, we encounter the different ways that their patient, Gloria, melds herself to the styles of the therapists. One evokes an angry physical reaction; one provides her with little more than “hmmms” and repetitions of her own points; the other dominates the room with a big dick energy that is so tangible that it requires a large chunk of the budget to be spent on a semi-erect dildo attached to a drone.

The production continuously breaks the fourth wall. Gina tells us that she wanted to have representation in her play; a diversity of women. The diversity they settle upon is to represent rock stars, so musician Jane Deasy is on stage, strumming her bass guitar and adding cool interjections and facts throughout the performance. Occasionally this is thrilling, and sometimes, when it slightly misses a beat, a little jarring. 

The aforementioned drone also fails to rise to the occasion on this particular night, something that is handled expertly by Gina and Liv O’Donoghue. Liv as Gloria is magnetic as she drapes herself over couches, the floor and Gina’s manifestations of therapising men. Her sex appeal is glorious and unapologetic. 

The the play is a rallying call for women to be themselves, embrace their sexuality and live a better life. This is emphasised by a gaggle of teenage girls who appear briefly on stage in an awkward, awed huddle around Gina and Gloria as they regale them with their experiences of cocks of all kinds. Overall, the play weaves together the films, music and script in a bawdy bricolage that is energised and uplifting, if anarchic and a little messy at times.

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