Louise Panucci as Sylvia  in Stephen Sewell’s ‘The Lives Of Eve’. Pic Danielle lyonne
Annie Byron in ‘The Lives Of Eve’. Pic Dan ielle Lyonne
Helen O’Connor. Pic Danielle Lyonne


‘The unconscious is structured like a language. He meant that the unconscious is made up of ‘chains of repressed signifiers’ that relate to one another through their own rules of metaphor and metonymy. These repressed signifiers express themselves through slips of the tongue, associations to dreams, mistaken actions, and through psychiatric symptoms’  Jacques Lacan, a French psychoanalyst and psychiatrist who has been described as the most controversial psychoanalyst since Sigmund Freud.  Sewell’s main character Eve is an ardent follower of Lacan’s work.


I feel in some way we are back to a long-ago Stephen Sewell, the days of Traitors, theatre that is relational and filled with politics and diatribe. A challenge of today’s living and loving. A social commentary, about the female focus and #metoo. An investment also in a way of thinking and longing to feel. Up close and personal. The KXT experience certainly takes us there again.

This two-act play is, one we might consider, two plays in one. The narrative and journey of the first with Helen O’Connor’s psychoanalyst Eve in her own brewing turmoil, softly and yet deliberately developing wherein she herself is loosening the controls of her life, and as Lacan (of whom she is a follower) would have it, her connection to her own desires.

A young woman Sylvia played with a subtle fragility and evocative power and authority by Louisa Panucci in a superbly focused performance, comes to Eve for treatment.  Across what we find must be daily visits, unravels her own historical hysterics and something in her story begins to disturb the good doctor. Inside this new disconnection Eve begins to lose the trust of her husband who also loses trust in her and their love. She seems to no longer desire him. Noel Hodder as husband Paul creates a wonderful believability in his challenges in the rising conflict of their disparate world in the central scene of Act One, as he faces his own struggles. As Eve herself seeks answers outside herself (she may need her own psychoanalyst) she seeks a mediator, in her ghostly returned dead mother. The performance of Annie Byron in this role was delicious and suitably distracting from the main narrative.

Inside this first half is some wonderful writing and powerful immersion in the seeming breaking down of their marriage. I even heard murmurs of the audience at interval, “is this by a male playwright? How can he seem to know so much about women? It is so true”.

Yet then we return, to a seeming otherworld, and all time takes missteps. By the conclusion, no one knows where or when we are. There are a couple of reveals that mean less to us than they may have. The contexts are no longer honest nor authentic. The titular character and first woman of Eve is the deconstruction inside her own mind it, would seem. Nothing much is as real as in Act One, and now the walls are truly closing in, and the manifestations around her are making even less sense to us, their witness. Or as Lacan would say – slips of the tongue, associations to dreams, mistaken actions, and through psychiatric symptoms.

I commend the sound design and composition by Jessica Pizzinga. Pizzinga held us in an alternation of inside memories and thunder storms and all the while wholly shuddering in the gentle rhythmic cacophony interwoven perfectly. 

The set design by Hannah Yardley was effective to create this upside-down world, supported by a lighting state that shifted, helping us attempt the real and unreal dreamscape, otherlife, afterlife, epiphany of Eve.

Stephen Sewell’s THE LIVES OF EVE is playing the KXT Theatre, corner Mountain Street and Broadway until the 11th November 2023.


Playwright – Stephen Sewell

Presented by – White Box Theatre

Director – Kim Hardwick

Cast – Annie Byron (Madeline), Noel Hodda (Paul), Helen O’Connor (Eve), Louisa Panucci (Sylvia)

Set Designer – Hannah Yardley

Sound Designer and Composition – Jessica Pizzinga

Stage Manager/Operator – Dylan Ford

Featured image : The team; the cast and creatives of  ‘The Lives Of Eve’.

Production photography by Danielle Lyonne

Review by Elizabeth  Surbey