Review: “Wife”

 

Induhu Rubasingham’s world premiere of of “Wife” by Samuel Adamson, at the revamped and re-named Kiln theatre in Kilburn, positively fizzes with camp and intellectual exuberance.

Based on Ibsen’s character of Nora (from “A Doll’s House”), a woman  stifled within the constrained and subordinate role of wife, this slick, muscular production, skillfully examines, through four contrasting (but generationally linked) scenes, society’s changing perspective on marriage, gender and queerness.

The first scene, set in 1959, in the dressing room of a production of “A Doll’s House”, shows middle class, married Daisy desperately trying to salvage her (secret) relationship with lover Suzannah.

The second scene, set in the 80’s, reveals the juxtaposition of sexual politics and personal power at play within in the relationship of gallery owner Robert and his mothers’ (Daisy) carer, Eric.

Each scene plays out the same theme: the role of a wife. It’s characters (straight and gay) wrestling to maintain a balance of personal freedom, compromise and equality within their relationships.

There’s a lot of crash, bang and wallop in this show – and not just on the entertaining front. It’s a challenging and thought-provoking production brimming with pathos, politics and laugh out loud moments.

Despite minor flaws – occasional clumsy directional shifts from one scene to another, and some of the characters coming across as rather stereotypical – I loved this production.

This was an ensemble piece, with the actors playing a number of parts. Special mention to Karen Fishwick, playing Daisy perfectly on point, and Calam Lynch, playing Eric with an understated talent that shone.

This production runs at the Kiln Theatre, Kilburn (0207 328 1000) until the 6thJuly. I recommend you go and see it…take your wife (who ever she, or he may be)

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