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REVIEW: RECIPE FOR A PERFECT WIFE

PUBLISHED: 16:42 01 September 2010 | UPDATED: 11:10 14 October 2010

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

Recipe for a Perfect Wife

IN A hit 1950s television show, five housewives compete for nomination as the Perfect Wife . Impeccably dressed and coiffed by Vivien of Holloway, they conceal the reality of their trivial

RECIPE FOR A PERFECT WIFE

King's Head Theatre,

Upper Street, N1

IN A hit 1950s television show, five housewives compete for nomination as the "Perfect Wife".

Impeccably dressed and coiffed by Vivien of Holloway, they conceal the reality of their trivial lives behind happy smiles, while showing off their skills at cooking, cleaning and caring for their husbands.

The broadest and phoniest smiles are worn by the presenters, Hugh (Matt Houlihan) and Sue (Chloe Eve Thorpe) - who is, clearly, planning to tear her slimy husband apart with those sharp teeth of hers, when she gets him home.

The script is devised, which may account for the unsubtle dialogue and superficial characters. The joke about mindless housewives is spread thinly and endlessly repeated. It would have been interesting to know, for instance, why those women are so ridiculously devoted to their homes and families. Had their childhood homes been destroyed by enemy action? Had their fathers been absent, fighting abroad? And was there not something to be proud of in baking an edible cake, using powdered egg and almost no sugar, during food rationing?

As each competitor is eliminated, she does reveal something of her inner longings and ambitions. But these scenes are muted and there is no distant rumbling of the women's movement, just over the horizon.

However, the direction, by Nadia Papachronopoulu, is slick and stylish and a lot of fun. The actors play for laughs - and get them. The songs are rendered with tuneful gusto, particularly by Claire Wood as Violet.

An exuberant, light-hearted entertainment, skillfully performed. Should one ask for more?

- JILL TRUMAN


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