The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband - Lighthouse Studio, Poole
The routinely excellent Dramatic Productions take a highly satisfying journey through darkly comic territory with this well-tuned three-hander.
Debbie Isitt’s comedy explores a love triangle which involves all the big subjects - sex, death, food and Elvis. Director Tracy Jane Murrey and a supreme cast handle the story of a pig-headed, fun-seeking, glutton, writhing hopelessly in the grip of a mid-life crisis, with aplomb.
Russell Biles plays Kenneth, a middle-aged Elvis fan whose life in the suburbs has hit the buffers. His performance is delivered with superb comic timing and a physicality that belies his rotund stature. Bored with Hiliary, his well-intentioned wife of 25 years, Kenneth has been seeking thrills elsewhere with younger, more attractive Laura. The trouble is it is all going very wrong. For a start Kenneth is a bad liar. Worse still Hilary is a superb cook and Laura, while fun in bed, is a disaster in the kitchen.
Julia Savill is brilliant as the blameless but betrayed wife - badly hurt, quietly seething and plotting her revenge while Celia Muir captures the dilemma of the once vivacious bit on the side who is gradually having the life sucked out of her by the selfish, greedy man she has taken on board. As they celebrate their third anniversary, Kenneth and Laura accept an invitation to dinner with Hilary, little suspecting the main ingredient of the ‘special’ meal she has planned. Whoever said that revenge is a dish best served cold had not considered this ingenious alternative.
With nods to farce, slapstick, mime and physical theatre this is a fast-paced comedy which requires not only skilful acting but a deep understanding of the material which has moments of both poignancy and almost cartoon madness. It’s complex stuff with time-shifts and some marvellous moments of both visual and verbal humour. It focuses on human weaknesses but remains laugh out loud funny.
Working on what must have been a minimal budget director Murrey and the cast do an excellent job using a set made up of just two tables, three chairs and a lampshade. I was interested to note that both set and costumes were predominantly green - the colour of envy. Tellingly there are also flashes of red - the colour of passion. Perfect!
*The Woman who Cooked Her Husband is at Lighthouse, Poole until Saturday 2nd May.