Studio 2, The Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
The Fair Intellectual Club is comedian Lucy Porter’s first foray into play writing, and it’s certainly a promising start. It tells the true tale of three young women who, in 1717 – at the dawn of the Scottish Enlightenment, set up an illicit club with the aim of studying literature, science and philosophy, determined not to be kept in ignorance merely by virtue of their sex. This was a risky venture, with social censure and reputations at stake, and Porter cleverly conveys a sense of genuine peril and brave rebellion.
The director’s light touch means that we focus on the actors (Samara MacLaren, Caroline Deyga and Jessica Hardwick), who convey their respective characters with exuberance and wit. The three girls have a convincing rapport, with all the love, anger, misery and jealousy of a real friendship beautifully portrayed. There are moments of real heartbreak – and of untamed laughter; this play is definitely one to watch. It has a contemporary resonance that should not be ignored.