My Brilliant Divorce

  • Dawn French is a delightfully large bundle of fun that it is almost impossible not to enjoy. Her cheeky grin, self-deprecation and exuberant personality are enough to fill any stage, which is fortunate for us, the audience, as the humour in this script is as slender as the bountiful Dawn French is large.

    Geraldine Aron has written a script that may appear daring, shocking and amusing in Ireland but to a London audience it will seem rather stale and clichéd. Visiting a sex shop to buy a vibrator and expressing surprise and dismay at the number of sizes and choices, discovering that some men are more amply endowed then others, and the realisation that when a girl calls a man “a wanker”, she may mean the term literally, expresses nothing more amusing then naivety. These juvenile attempts at humour are only saved from cringing embarrassment by the wonderful facial expressions and delivery of the unsurpassable Dawn French.

    Like the sex jokes, the rest of the humour in this script is lazy and easy pickings. Staunch catholic mothers unsympathetic to their divorced children, semi-senile parents, hypochondriacs and blind dates demand no great bouts of originality to write one-line gags for, which no doubt accounts for much of the hackneyed script.

    However, what the author is good at capturing is the pain and cruelty of desertion and subsequent divorce in middle age. The lonely discovery that your married friends lose interest in you, Christmas dinner with only your dog for company, finding a love letter which your ‘husband’ has written to his mistress, the humiliation of seeking love and reconciliation when one knows it is unlikely to happen and the persistent doubts that you may be to blame for your partner’s infidelity.

    Dawn French’s character Angela attempts bravado when her husband initially deserts her but eventually the reality of her unwanted independence breaks down her spirit to the point of contemplating suicide. The jovial personality of French adds to the poignancy of Angela’s plight, with the scary realisation that betrayal can undermine the most buoyant of individuals despite all appearances to the contrary.

    (Alan Bird)

    Next Review from one of our readers
    Gary Mack

    April 2003

    My wife and I attended the evening performance on Tuesday 15 April of "My Brilliant Divorce" a play by Geraldine Aron. The brilliant in the title I assume refers to Dawn French she is clearly very talented, she can take a script and squeeze every ounce of comedy out of it and bend the script to curve round her every command.

    The one-woman play works very well but at 1 hour and 25 minutes with no interval I wonder if the play provides value for the ticket price. The story is very simple and concerns Angela played of course by the lovely Dawn French, who is suddenly divorced. The audience needs no further explanation as that situation can provide hours of comedy, so why one hour and twenty five minutes. Well the play moves quickly with hardly time for breath by Ms French. I did begin to think that the set was bland but there were surprises in store.

    We take an explosive firework journey through her troubled life and her longing for the divorce to a bad dream! There are some great comic moments and this is pulled off eloquently by Ms French and not to spoil it for anyone I will not go into detail, go and see the play… Is it worth the ticket price? Yes if you like Dawn French, although I would suggest the better value comes from the half price ticket booth or Tiks as it is now know.

    I would recommend seeing “My Brilliant Divorce” as a fun night out and to see a master comic at work, and work she dose. In an interview recently Ms French admitted to being nervous doing the play; however she shines brilliantly in this Divorce…

    (Gary Mack)

    Notices from the popular press....

    BENEDICT NIGHTINGALE for THE TIMES says, "There are plenty of amusing moments." RHODA KOENIG for THE INDEPENDENT says, "Only stale, lame jokes dawn on French's feeble comedy." MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Mixing vaudevillian solo-turn and vicarious soul-baring, she [Dawn French] offers an enjoyable evening of stand-up tragedy." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Dawn's valiant stand-up in cruded satire of divorce." CHARLES SPENCER for DAILY TELEGRAH says, "French manages to be both funny and touching." LISA WHITBREAD for THE STAGE says, "Vivacious one-woman.....some great comic touches."

    External links to full reviews from newspapers

    The Times
    The Independent
    Daily Telegraph
    The Stage

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