New Ambassadors Theatre, London WC2
Opened 16 September, 2002

** Berkoffian-feminist panto, plus a couple of big names

Debbie Isitt's marital revenge play was a bit on the thin side in 1991; time and inflation to West End proportions have not helped it.

A decade ago, Isitt and her Snarling Beasties company were theatrical names to watch for: vibrant, exciting and on the rise. Then this play came to the Royal Court, and it all sort of stopped. It wasn't actually bad, just a tremendous falling-off compared to what had come before. Likewise, the context of the West End in 2002 makes it look more simplistic and insubstantial than ever.

This time, deserted ex-wife Hilary does not seem to nurse her resentment at adulterous hubby Ken for years until taking her revenge, when she finds a fortuitous ally in second wife Laura. Isitt's direction renders things too cosily cartoon-like for us to feel the sustained current of wrong; as Ken shags Laura whilst continuing to visit Hilary to be fed, we just respond to it as a bit of a laugh. Matters aren't helped by Alison Steadman's portrayal of Hilary; it's the kind of amiable performance she could have phoned in, and perhaps might have been better advised to do so. Daisy Donovan fits the two-dimensional bill as Laura. On its original outing, it may not have been great but the rage at the law's inequitable treatment of women was still palpable; this time, even that is missing.

Written for

Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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