It gives me great pleasure to eat my words of two months ago concerning Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband. This new, disconcerting blend of The Borgias with Wheeltappers And Shunters is Isitt's first full-length play; as before, all the ugliness – sexism, homophobia and 120 different vectors of power-politicking in a northern nightclub – is upfront, but here the tensions and distaste build at their natural, sinister pace rather than being forced into a single act, and the lingering aftertaste is more powerful for it.
"King of Comedy" Bobby Vincent makes Jim Davidson sound like Robert Runcie; James Gaddas skilfully balances the black comedy of his paranoid jealousy (stoked unremittingly by the uncontrolled sarcasm of Beverley Klein as wife Fay) and still manages to elicit a bat's squeak of pathos when Bobby finally dies onstage. These are Ralph Steadman cartoons of Alan Bennett characters: their prejudices are blatant and genuinely shocking, yet we sympathise with their fucked-upness. Isitt shares film director John Carpenter's notions of "left-wing horror": the enemy isn't an Other, isn't Out There, but In Here – and that's the horror. Long may she snarl.
Written for City Limits magazine.
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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