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Theatre Royal?s latest in-house production blended a wicked dark comedy with flavours of adultery, jealousy, and murder. The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, written by Debbie Isitt, served up direct, frank and dark humour to a hungry audience.

The plot is given away in the title but the clever sequencing of flashbacks built up tension and suspense while leading up to the moment in which the play opens.

The three characters in the production played up to male and female stereotypes: the dried-up old housewife, the sexy young marriage wrecker and the sex and stomach driven male. Each character was well acted although the stereotypes could have been a little more tongue-in-cheek.

Hilary, the ex-wife, was the most instantly likable character with her manipulative evil side bubbling under her cold exterior. Her opening line, ‘I first decided to cook my husband on the day he left me,’ introduced the deep rooted anger and slightly insane quality of the character. Kiki Kendrick did well to present an essentially one-dimensional character when interacting with other characters while showing a great depth and complexity of character in her asides.

Kenneth, an ageing, over-weight Elvis fan, was well played by Ian Keith, so much so that by the end of the performance most of the audience, or at least the women in it, wanted to cook him too. The characters were very reliable to the point that the cannibalistic plot at the finale appeared quite reasonable.

The direction of the play, by James Barry, was well managed and included some surreal staging as well as very naturalistic scenes. The distant relationship between Kenneth and Hilary was successfully represented by the characters facing away from each other and regurgitating the same flat conversation repeatedly.

The set was well utilised and clearly highlighted the division between Kenneth?s life with Laura and that with Hilary. Props were only used occasionally and the scenes in which they were, for example in Hilary?s chopping of vegetables, took on a strong poignancy.

The peacock feather backdrop echoed the vibrant colours of the costumes and during each character's monologues the stage was lit in their colour. The music also punctuated the action and mood of each scene with well chosen Elvis songs providing an often ironic commentary.

An enjoyable and entertaining production proving that revenge is a dish best served cold.

Amanda Barnes, Alresford Advertiser and Alton Gazette

Comedy provides food for thought

FOR any men with an appetite for adultery, 'The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband' might provide some timely food for thought.

Currently showing at the Theatre Royal in Winchester, this play has no shortage of laughs and many jokes cut right to the bone of married life.

It focuses on Hilary, played by Kiki Kendrick, a housewife with all the tricks of the trade when it comes to keeping her home shipshape and Bristol fashion. The three performers carry the entire play themselves, which is no mean feat, and the script contains no shortage of giggles and guffaws. Kendrick has a good outing as Hilary, with Diana Eskell providing able support as Laura.

Ian Keith also grapples well with the taxing part of Kenneth, generating quite a few laughs as the self-centred yet pathetic male drowning in problems of his own creation.

The only problem is that her delinquent husband, Kenneth, takes his dinner and clean clothes for granted.

Seemingly trying to prove to himself that he still appeals to the opposite sex, he leaves his wife after nearly 20 years in favour of a new love.

Sadly for Kenneth, his younger partner, Laura, can't cook to save her life.

However, it is not her life that is in danger, as the philandering wretch finds himself caught between two women for whom the 'hell hath no fury' saying was invented.

Hampshire Chronicle

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