site search by freefind advanced

 Connecting professional and amateur theatre in Newbury, West Berkshire and beyond

Progress Theatre - The Woman who Cooked her Husband

3rd to 8th October 2005.

From the Newbury Weekly News.

Off the boil

The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, at The Progress Theatre, Reading, from Monday, October 3 to Saturday, October 8

"The day I decided to kill my husband was the day he left me" is the opening line of this modest comedy of manners. A drama that explores through its three protagonists our most basic animal desires - food and sex. There are no great surprises as the opening statement makes quite clear what we are to expect.

Aggrieved woman Hilary takes revenge on the husband Kenneth who has left her for a younger model, Laura, by cooking and eating him, although happily we are spared the horror of this - after all, it is a comedy. Unfortunately, it is a rather slight comedy. Maybe writer Debbie Issit should have been slightly more daring in her approach and play it as Greek tragedy. Her undemanding plot is far too weak to sustain attention and the first 20 minutes were mind-numbingly boring.

It did pick up, however, and this was solely down to Christine Moran's Hilary, who maintained the tempo while the unsympathetic husband Kenneth (Pete Ashton) frantically tore across the stage as a pantomime villain. After all, Kenneth and Hilary were married for 19 years. Nineteen years in which she pandered to his gastronomic excesses. Even in Moran's comic performance, you can still smell the whiff of betrayal.

Sadly the subject of Kenneth's attentions, Laura (Tonya Walton), is poorly served by the sketchy writing and you wonder whether this two-dimensional part was ever meant to be part of the finished piece.

Furthermore, with its promising Elvis leitmotif, I thought we were in for a night of 'Cooking with Elvis', a far superior piece of farce and smut and I have to say I was greatly disappointed.

The three cast members acted in a non-naturalistic style that the director Kerry Murdock felt it deserved and did their best with the paucity of material. Set design aided the chosen style and period in both its simplicity and hue.

Finally, whatever the play's shortcomings, it is still live theatre - something unfortunately on the decrease in Reading. It appears that The Hexagon has at last given up and without the enthusiastic 'amateurs' we would be totally bereft of any theatre.