Review – Eve, Veto Ensemble, Fringe Festival, University of Northampton 3rd Year (BA) Acting and Creative Practice Students, The Platform, Northampton, 30th April 2019

Fringe FestivalVeto Ensemble’s Fringe Festival play borrows from the old Biblical story of Lilith. Jewish folklore places her as Adam’s first wife, and, according to Wikipedia, she’s a sexually wanton demon of the night. Gosh. This play, Eve, is perhaps not quite so Old Testament as that, as it tells the story, in flashbacks, of the friendship between Evie and Lily, thrown together at school. Evie was the new girl, a well-behaved swot; and Lily was what my mother would have called a “good-time girl”, the drug-taking, house-breaking type. When Evie agrees to do Lily’s homework for her if Lily agrees to take her to a party, neither of them could have seen the consequences of their actions. But, after the consumption of a ton of alcohol, Eve meets Adam at the party, and, having blacked out from the drink, her only memory on waking up is asking him to stop. But he doesn’t. It’s rape. But will Evie be believed? And, as disaster follows disaster, where will a line of coke take her?

This robust, sometimes funny, occasionally horrific play incorporates many technical skills that Amber Winger and Rosalie Evans perform with great gusto and precision. There’s a sequence set in the classroom where both of them act out a number of roles, both speaking live and lip-synching alongside pre-recorded material, which they did with terrific lightness of touch, convincingly recreating the characters of the crude boys in class as well as the teacher. There are also some scenes with very engaging contemporary movement performed in unison, combined with some stream of consciousness talk – I’m thinking about the excellent scene that followed the cocaine binge, which cleverly blurred feelings of control and reality into chaos.

EveThe play emphasises the age-old expectations about women’s role in society – in other words, men’s privileges that continue to this day despite efforts towards equality and because of the authority that men continue to assume. From the cat-calling in school, to Adam’s inability to understand (or care about) sexual consent and the subsequent disbelieving police interviewer, you can see how this behaviour is ingrained and shows few signs of improvement. And sadly, as we discover twenty years on, even with greater general awareness of the issue, the recurrence of rape, where the authorities don’t believe the woman, still continues.

Ms Winger and Ms Evans perform together perfectly, with great unity, and obviously have complete trust in each other which is always a delight to witness on stage. They both bring great character strengths to their roles, Ms Winger expressing perfectly the fragility and lack of confidence that young Evie feels, and the utter helplessness of not being believed. Ms Evans, on the other hand, has a steely look that suggests she could take on all-comers, daring others to disapprove of her lifestyle, although even she is eventually shocked at what happens.

Rosalie Evans and Amber Winger in EveThe play ends with a thought-provoking and witty poem, delivered alternately line by line by both performers, sharply and snappily, and your final thoughts are of frustration at the inequality between the sexes, sadness for Evie’s prolonged predicament, and an appreciation of two very fine performances. Very thought-provoking and smart throughout!

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