Wife

There’s a great variety of women in Wife – taking as a cue Carol Anne Duffy’s The World’s Wife – from ‘Mrs Quasimodo’ to Michelle Obama, whose farewell speech is predated by Duffy’s original poem, but nonetheless makes an appearance here.

An engrossing, moving and captivating hour.

Wife is witty and fast paced, a swift hour of performance poetry from Ella Duffy (delivering the words of her own mother), as she kaleidoscopes through all manner of women – wronged, defiant, proud and bold. You get ‘Mrs Beast’, cheerfully indicating that her man may or may not live up to his name between the sheets, while at another time, Sigmund Freud’s other half wryly observes what we may all be thinking: sometimes a sausage is just a sausage – whereas sometimes it’s a lot more (or a lot less). There are some astute directorial choices on display, particularly when the performance neatly sidesteps a couple of moments that could have been culturally clumsy.

Considering that the hour is essentially one woman delivering speech after speech, this show crackles along with a significant amount of fizz and humour. Obviously, a great deal of this is down to the poetry in the original work, but Ella Duffy is consummately skilled at drawing out the nuance and complications in each character: inhabiting each personality with entirely different characteristics – no mean feat when so many of them have so much shared DNA in the way of age and circumstance.

While there are a few women who do not survive the journey from poetic page to Edinburgh stage, there are plenty who are given much more of a voice than they arguably were in real life: the Kray sisters, for instance, are a drawling, sneering, sexy powerhouse of the East End. Duffy implores us to ‘remember the ladies’ – something particularly appropriate this year, considering the hashtag that has been bubbling under on twitter: #sololadiesalliance – and it’s true that every single one of the women presented here could hold an hour by themselves. As a collective, though, they make up an engrossing, moving and captivating hour.

Reviews by Andrew Allen

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Performances

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The Blurb

'I desire you would remember the ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors' (Abigail Adams, former First Lady, 1776). Mrs Icarus, Eleanor Roosevelt, Queen Herod, Constance Wilde, Mrs Quasimodo… Based on and incorporating The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy, this is a journey through history and mythology from the obscured, female perspective. Including poetry, physical theatre, puppetry and verbatim, this is an exploration of womanhood through the ages. After all, behind every great man...

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