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The Unmarried (Edinburgh Fringe Festival): Review

the unmarried Raving feminist. Lauren Gauge in "The Unmarried". Photograph: Courtesy of The Other Richard.

Female writing so honest and truthful, as well as hypnotic, The Unmarried needs to be on the national curriculum as well as in every theatre.

A young woman falls in love at university and has the rest of her life ahead of her with her unmarried partner. But is everything as good up as it’s meant to be, in The Unmarried?

Writing

There aren’t any female playwrights out there. Lauren Gauge isn’t real and The Unmarried isn’t actually a female play. We need to constantly remind our self that playwrights like Gauge simply aren’t a thing. There’s nothing like Whoop ‘n’ Wail Represents…, The Thelmas, Bechdel Theatre, or HerStory that support the absolute tsunami of female writing out there at all. We just need to accept is that women’s roles in theatre are just not possible to write beyond a stereotype or be used as a romantic crutch. I mean, that’s just the way it is.

What’s great about the promotional image for The Unmarried is that it’s Gauge giving everyone the middle finger. That’s because The Unmarried is not just a brilliant “fuck you” to the tiresome and wilfully obstructive ideas and “excuses” as to why we apparently have a deficit of female playwrights, but also a real ruffling of the ideas of who the modern female is and what she should be doing.

Before I go any further, I want to say that The Unmarried is a feminist play, but not a “feminist” play, before people dismiss Gauge’s opus on the assumption that all it does is burn bras and rallies women to kill men and replace them with fish on bicycles. The whole point about The Unmarried is that it explores a modern sense of being female which Gauge does with an outright honesty. The Unmarried does confront ideas of patriarchy and the societal role of women, but it’s more to challenge and question rather than aggressively decry these. Gauge also writes about sexual desires and sex without any fetishisation or sensationalism. It’s just a woman’s actual thoughts and frustrations that are drawn from empathetic experience: not some glossy kinky article in Cosmo on how to be a “better, sexier” woman. This gives The Unmarried an incredible sense of humanity rather than idealism, and the result is an immensely and engrossing piece of provocation that enables you to empathise and go through the same questions that Gauge’s character does. There’s no specific politik here, just a life lived and which challenges ideas about living, presented in such an as is and unflinchingly open way.

Adding on to Gauge’s insightful and engrossing experiences is her use of prose to deliver the entire monologue. It adds a really hypnotic pace and rhythm that draws you right into the very beating pulse of Gauge’s portrayal of modern womanhood. Gauge’s text trips lightly and intriguingly through the full hour of the show making you really connect with the message and honesty she’s putting out there, as well as being really entranced and entertained.

Direction & Production

The production behind The Unmarried is low-key, but really inspired. The entire show is set to a soundtrack of 1990s garage music, performed with live beatboxing and vocals. Not only does it evoke the era that Gauge grew up in, it very cleverly blends seamlessly into the metre of the prose. The beat of the songs used in the show act almost like a metronome that keeps The Unmarried ticking over. Furthermore, The Unmarried’s movement direction also adds a visual intrigue. Everything flows slick and syncopated that makes it compelling to listen to and witness.

Verdict

The Unmarried is a poetic quiet riot of truth and honesty. The Unmarried is not just what we should be getting from female theatre, but an incredible level or portray that should be indicative of ALL writing. A trailblazing feminist masterpiece.

The Unmarried plays at the Underbelly Med Quad (Venue 302), until 28 August 2017. For tickets, times, and prices, visit tickets.edfringe.com.