The Fair Intellectual Club, Royal Scots Club, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Arkle Theatre Company
Lucy Porter (writer), Rob McKean (director), John Wietzen (lighting)
Tricia Brown (Poly), Felicity Cullen (Thalia), Hannah Bradley (Clio)
Running time

And so to the Royal Scots Club upon Abercromby Place, there to be regaled by three young ladies with their entertainment, entitled ‘The Fair Intellectual Club’…

Sam Pepys had been long gathered to his ancestors by the opening of Lucy Porter’s feminist satire, set in Edinburgh in 1717 and a little beyond. The lack of both court and parliament caused the Scottish capital of that date to look to its own resources and set it on a path to becoming part of Europe’s age of Enlightenment. Porter’s conceit, that three young ladies, ably played by Tricia Brown (Poly), Felicity Cullen (Thalia) and Hannah Bradley (Clio), should set up their own lecture and debating society in imitation of those popular amongst the gentlemen of the city, offers her considerable scope on several fronts which she uses to considerable effect.

‘Where two or three are gathered together there will be sex and politics’ this reviewer once observed in a different context, and both prove suitable subjects for The Fair Intellectual Club. Girls will be girls is very much part of Porters’ premise, even if these girls take education and understanding rather more seriously than some of their supposed contemporaries may have done.

In its subsequent incarnation as a BBC Radio Four series, history takes a holiday as the trio encounter Voltaire, Benjamin Franklin and other luminaries, but here we focus on the ladies’ own trials, as Poly faces matrimonial sublimation in the form of an elderly albeit wealthy suitor. This and other problems are satisfactorily dealt with in the space of an hour, while yet giving the ladies ample room to demonstrate that the fair sex is not always fair, even to each other.

Taking witty and timely swipes at Anglo-Scottish relations as much as those between the sexes, ‘The Fair Intellectual Club’ offers exactly the sort of pre-dinner diversion many a Fringe goer may be seeking at this hour.

14-19 August at 6.15pm…