Sandwiched in the middle of a successful week of Freshers’ Plays, The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband is explained perfectly in the title: a woman, on discovery that her gluttonous husband has been having an affair, kills him and, in cahoots with the women with whom he was having said affair, decides the best way to dispose of the body and wreak her final revenge is to cook him. The play itself is a tricky blend of domestic realism and absurdity, an admirable challenge for this newest bunch of St Andrews’ thespians to get their teeth into.
The production was at its strongest aesthetically. The characters were linked by the thread of green that ran throughout their costumes: Toby Parker (Husband) was bedecked in green trousers and braces, Eilidh Mack (The Wife) was clothed in a green hostess outfit, and Ellen White (The Mistress) was in a green dress. Similarly, the use of a green and pink light to suggest two different houses was a simple, yet effective way of changing the location of a scene. Clearly this was a production team that had put thought and time into the aesthetic of the play, raising its quality. Similarly, there was a nice sense of the characters’ physicality throughout. As the titular husband has to spend much of the time dashing between wife and mistress, the production did a good job of creating the sense of a real rush between the two antithetical women. By having Parker racing from one side of the stage to the other, complete with ever-swelling strings beneath the action, the physical side of the play had a lovely pace to it.
Similarly, there were some good ideas in terms of the acting too. Whilst Parkers’s excessive cockney accent was grating at the start of the piece, from the mid-point onwards it provided a lovely contrast to the two Scottish voices of the women. White too did a nice job in being an ‘unwomenly’ women by being brash and bold. However, it was Mack who was the standout of The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband. From Mack’s opening monologue to the close of the play she seemed to be leading the rest of the cast with a calm confidence.
Where the production fell down was in a general lack of polish. Cues had to be given, there were some unconfident entrances, and a couple of missed spots. Of course, there is only so much that can be done in the short six week period afforded to Freshers’ Plays, but lines and blocking should always be learnt before a performance! I would like to have seen a little more thought put into the delivery of the lines themselves: the lines were sometimes just thrown away where there should have been some more comedy eked out of them.
The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband certainly was an afternoon well spent. The comedy of the piece was well realised and, with a little more confidence and dynamism, there were enough ideas and strong moments in the piece for it to have become a well-rounded performance. I would like to encourage director Eilidh Hughes to try their hand at another play in the future.
Photos courtesy of Katie Brennan.