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The Wife of Willesden (Kiln Theatre, London)

Verdict: Whole lot of woman 

Rating:

Two women six centuries apart. In the rough and tough corner we have a glorious reincarnation of Chaucer's mediaeval love raptor, The Wife of Bath, translated by Zadie Smith to Kilburn High Road.

In the right-polite corner we have a day in the mind of a troubled young woman who works in publishing - a brilliant and ambitious adaptation of Rebecca Watson's debut novel Little Scratch.

For The Wife of Willesden, the Kiln Theatre has been re-configured as Kilburn's legendary Irish boozer, The Sir Colin Campbell for an imaginary lock-in after hours.

Here we get well and truly barbecued by Clare Perkins as the serially married, sex-mad, middle-aged motormouth Alvita, telling us about her five husbands - rich, saucy, loving, dead and violent (that one gets it back, with interest).

Heartily gynaecological, her Chaucerian challenge to the men in the pub is to figure out what women really want in relationships (aside from pleasure 'morning and night').

For The Wife of Willesden , the Kiln Theatre has been re-configured as Kilburn’s legendary Irish boozer, The Sir Colin Campbell for an imaginary lock-in after hours

For The Wife of Willesden , the Kiln Theatre has been re-configured as Kilburn's legendary Irish boozer, The Sir Colin Campbell for an imaginary lock-in after hours

Here we get well and truly barbecued by Clare Perkins as the serially married, sex-mad, middle-aged motormouth Alvita, telling us about her five husbands - rich, saucy, loving, dead and violent (that one gets it back, with interest)

Here we get well and truly barbecued by Clare Perkins as the serially married, sex-mad, middle-aged motormouth Alvita, telling us about her five husbands - rich, saucy, loving, dead and violent (that one gets it back, with interest)

And she illustrates the answer with a mini-epic tale set under the rule of the 18th-Century Jamaican rebel, Queen Nanny.

Let's be absolutely clear though this is all about Alvita and Perkins plays a belter, setting all before her ablaze with a bonfire personality.

Shifting effortlessly through the gears, she's daring, dismissive, doting, devious and very randy — as the situation allows.

Smith's street-wise rhyming couplets follow Chaucer's and his reworked bawdy wisdom rolls off Alvita's tongue like diamonds from H Samuel.

And she illustrates the answer with a mini-epic tale set under the rule of the 18th-Century Jamaican rebel, Queen Nanny

And she illustrates the answer with a mini-epic tale set under the rule of the 18th-Century Jamaican rebel, Queen Nanny

Shifting effortlessly through the gears, she’s daring, dismissive, doting, devious and very randy - as the situation allows

Shifting effortlessly through the gears, she's daring, dismissive, doting, devious and very randy - as the situation allows

Never less than combative, she answers objections to her sexual appetite voiced by religious Jamaican aunts, as well as St Paul and Jesus himself (with a gold pub tray for a halo), quoting scripture right back at them and calling it 'advice', not law.

The cast of ten bring Alvita's story to raucous life in Indhu Rubasingham's joyfully freewheeling production. 

It's local theatre at its best, looking outwards with confidence and swagger. And as for that thorny question about what women really want, Alvita's answer is... power. 

And if you've got a problem with that I suggest you go along and take it up with her. Good luck.

 

Little Scratch (Hampstead Theatre, London)

Verdict: Troubling but satisfying scratch 

Rating:

Little Scratch, in the posher neighbouring postal district of NW3, couldn't be more different. 

Watson's tale of a young woman working as a PA in a newspaper office is a highly controlled and tightly conceived piece of work.

Directed by the revered Katie Mitchell, four actors (three women, one man) give voice to the butterfly flittings of the woman's nervy consciousness during the course of a day.

Directed by the revered Katie Mitchell, four actors (three women, one man) give voice to the butterfly flittings of the woman’s nervy consciousness during the course of a day

Directed by the revered Katie Mitchell, four actors (three women, one man) give voice to the butterfly flittings of the woman's nervy consciousness during the course of a day

The story has the trajectory of a tragedy thanks to the warring forces of the woman’s mind, yet there is hope too in her relationship with her boyfriend, and her fears eventually dissolve into sleep

The story has the trajectory of a tragedy thanks to the warring forces of the woman's mind, yet there is hope too in her relationship with her boyfriend, and her fears eventually dissolve into sleep

She starts in bed discerning a slight hangover, showers, heads to work monitoring WhatsApp messages, and makes it to the 'dreaded' office. 

Here she's patronised by a female colleague and menaced by a male boss, who, shockingly, we learn has previously raped her.

Eve Ponsonby is the woman's principal voice in what is a brilliantly executed, high-wire act and feat of memory.

Eve Ponsonby is the woman’s principal voice in what is a brilliantly executed, high-wire act and feat of memory

Eve Ponsonby is the woman's principal voice in what is a brilliantly executed, high-wire act and feat of memory

As the other three (Moronke Akinola, Eleanor Henderson and Ragevan Vasan) cut in with obsessive fears and fantasies, it's staged in a room set up like a recording studio, where all four are submerged in Melanie Wilson's busy city soundscape.

The story has the trajectory of a tragedy thanks to the warring forces of the woman's mind, yet there is hope too in her relationship with her boyfriend, and her fears eventually dissolve into sleep. 

It may prove too sexually disturbing for some, but it remains a very satisfying 100-minute scratch.

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Source : https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-10218631/PATRICK-MARMION-reviews-Wife-Willesden-bawdy-wifes-joyous-motormouth.html

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PATRICK MARMION reviews the Wife of Willesden: This bawdy wifes a joyous motormouth

Source:Daily Mail

PATRICK MARMION reviews the Wife of Willesden: This bawdy wifes a joyous motormouth