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Summerhall, Edinburgh

In an attempt to discover which gender was unfaithful first, The Dispute is an experiment re-creating the Garden of Eden. Four teenagers have been locked away in solitude, and today – on day 6570 – they will each meet another human for the first time.

There are two couples who were all ‘made’ for each other; these characters are delightful and realistically innocent. The performance only uses the prelapsarian setting as an allegorical premise; none of its biblical components are present. Morality is however called into question at the characters existence in the experiment.

Eglee appears first, totally independently of her partner Azore; the performance is principally about her discovery of herself and her desires. It is touching to watch her discover her reflection with a childlike sense of immodesty in adoring her beauty. The play touches upon gender and sexuality in the characters fairly unmalleable (despite unexperienced) psyches, particularly in their responses to each other – love and jealousy, for the most part.

The set is entrancing; Astroturf, dizzying sky with moving clouds and built in pools of water where Eglee sees herself for the first time. There’s a wonderful scene where Eglee and Azore don’t understand why their reflections change when they each look into a mirror they are given. A strange mannequin takes centre stage, watching over them and delivering messages.

The premise of the play is a bit uncomfortable in the irrelevance of the first unfaithful gender. If it is possible to know from this experiment, then what good can possibly come from it? The ending is disappointingly abrupt, with no reference to the outside world of experimenters which was only touched upon at the start of the play.

However, recommended for a very enjoyable performance.

  • Drama
  • Adapted from Marivaux by Emily Kempson
  • Directed by Emily Kempson, produced by Hilbrow Hour
  • Cast includes: Gabrielle Dempsey, Georgia Groome, Chris Lew Kum Hoi, Rollo Skinner, Alwyne Taylor
  • Summerhall, Edinburgh
  • Until 5th August 2014
  • Time: 15:40 (1h 10mins)
  • Review by Tamara Stanton
  • 6th August 2014

About The Author

Reviewer (UK)

I live in London after studying English Literature at university, and I currently teach and write in my spare time. I was lucky to go to the Edinburgh Fringe with PlaysToSee last summer where I saw some brilliant performances, especially some of the physical theatre. I am very interested in the way space is used in performances, where the imagination of directors, actors and audience work in collaboration.

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