The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband

  • Review by:
    Amanda Hodges

    The word flimsy could have been coined just for this. Debbie Isitt's comic three-hander set in the era of rock 'n' roll, looks at the revenge wreaked on a husband by his wronged wife when he deserts her for a younger model. Originally produced in 1990's at the Edinburgh Fringe, you can see how it would fit into the Fringe's irreverent atmosphere perfectly, but translated to the West End stage it now looks paper-thin, with occasionally funny moments but all too often stretched way beyond its dramatic capabilities; the best part is undoubtably its cracking Elvis soundtrack. Alison Steadman does her very best in the plump role of Hilary, superb cook and neglected spouse who turns to the kitchen, a 'murderer's paradise' to exact culinary revenge on her selfish ex. Daisy Donovan from TV's 11 O'clock Show is the svelte Laura who finds herself landed with the dubious prize of husband Ken (Michael Attwell), a chauvinist whose gluttony drives him back to Hilary's overladen table when he finds out that his new wife can't cook.

    Like the two women, an electric green set alternates with psychedelic red for effect- presumably one symbolising home comforts, the other temptations of the flesh. One minute Ken is slumped at the kitchen table, happily guzzling, the next he opens what looks like an innocuous front door only for it to turn into a vision of red velvet framing a seductive Laura. Moments like this- and the darkly amusing finale when Hilary and Laura witness Ken quite literally dying of greed- hold the attention but overall it's impossible to see why anyone would choose to revive such a slim, under-nourished play.


    Notices from the popular press....

    MICHAEL BILLINGTON for THE GUARDIAN says, "Isitt's play is merely a reverse Punch and Judy show that tricks out its simplistic message with Rossini overtures and old pop songs."CHARLES SPENCER for THE DAILY TELEGRAPH says, " A desperate, and faintly disgusting, dog's dinner of a play." RHODA KOENIG for THE INDEPENDENT says, "This half-baked piece of writing and directing leaves bad taste in the mouth." NICK AWDE for THE STAGE says, "Aside from a few belly laughs does not deliver much more." NICHOLAS DE JONGH for THE EVENING STANDARD says, "Mildly amusing."

    External links to full reviews from newspapers

    The Guardian
    Daily Telegraph
    The Independent
    The Stage

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