A What's Good to Do Review
Last weekend we were invited to the press night of I Was a Wife at the Dukes Theatre, Lancaster. The Dukes are always looking at new ways to bring the arts to Lancaster and the plays they produce are always that little bit different. I Was A Wife has been developed by Polly Lister and Joe Sumsion, The Duke's Artistic Director, as part of the theatre's Kick Start programme to develop new talent and works. Polly originally planned to write a self-help pamphlet to help others going through similar heartache however, after talking with Joe was encouraged to turn her ideas into a play. A preview of the work was performed 12 months ago and feedback from the audience used to fine tune the show.
The play is set in a backstage dressing room with Polly retelling the story of the biggest role of her life. Changing costume many times she revisits the characters she was playing throughout this autobiographical play. She talks to herself, and sometimes the audience, about the breakup, questioning what went wrong, was she at fault? A number of songs were performed, brilliantly reflecting the emotions she was feeling at the time.
Throughout the night she had many conversations between herself and other characters which was especially effective during the court scene where she cross examined herself in search of a reason for the break-up.
The first half of the play was quite light-hearted as we learnt of Polly’s engagement and watched the wedding preparations but the second became much more emotional and heart-breaking as Polly struggled to come to terms with the breakup and subsequent divorce.
Polly has played many roles but this surely must be one of the most difficult she has ever played with the subject matter being so personal. We have seen her in a couple of plays at The Dukes before and always thought she was a good actress but having seen her bare her soul to complete strangers shows what an incredibly talented actress she really is. The audience obviously felt this too as an emotional Polly received a standing ovation at the end.
This subject could easily have made for a quite depressing night but the show manages to be entertaining, without making light of such a sensitive subject matter.
We really enjoyed the play and would recommend that you go and see it. I Was A Wife is playing until Saturday 6th February.