The Fair Intellectual Club (3 stars)

This article is from 2014

The Fair Intellectual Club

Charming production of Lucy Porter play exploring true story of secret society ladies

Based on a true story, comedian/writer Lucy Porter's play on 'the loss of innocence' follows a trio of Edinburgh teenage girls' attempts over the course of one year (1717) to study subjects that were considered off-limits to the 'fair sex', such as science, philosophy, mathematics and history. Thus, a secret society was born, lest their patriarchal peers discover and shun them.

The cast of three are wonderful, even if little more than archetypes: Polyhymnia (Samara MacLaren) a pious natural leader; Clio (Jessica Hardwick) a proto-feminist, Thalia (Caroline Deyga) the wayward narcissist. Director Marilyn Imrie's effervescent direction keeps the pace brisk, even if initially,the only harmony in this dysfunctional sisterly dynamic lies in their gorgeous singing. Gingerly, crinolines are lifted, exposing not only societal expectations of 18th Century women, but the classic tropes of ribald romps: fainting at erotic poetry; blushing, marrying dodgy suitors. The misery of betrothal and self-sabotaging behaviour threaten their overrule their ambitions, but friendship ultimately wins out.

There can't be too many Fringe shows featuring punch-ups over Descartes' solipsism and the mind/body dichotomy, but this is period drama with PMT, and more than a touch of Riot Grrrl in its life-affirming denouement. Utterly charming.

Assembly Rooms (0844) 693 3008 until Aug 24 (not 11) £10, ( £8-£9)

The Fair Intellectual Club

  • 3 stars

A tale of teenage love, friendship and betrayal set at the dawn of the Scottish Enlightenment. Written by Lucy Porter.