Directed by: Eilidh Hughes
While on the surface a light-hearted comedy, ‘The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband,’ performed on Wednesday in the Barron Theatre featured themes of adultery, feminism and morality. Ellen White, Tobias Parker and Eilidh MacKinnon all gave stunning performances, especially considering that this was their introduction to St Andrews theatre.
Telling the story of husband Kenneth, his ex-wife Hilary, and his current younger and prettier wife Laura, the play is tail-ended by scenes which take place in Hilary’s kitchen as she plots to kill Kenneth for all the wrongs he has done to her. The play included a series of well-performed soliloquies and conversations.
The technical and production team must be credited for their ingenious use of a variety of music and lighting which was cleverly used to cut the tension between scenes. The central portion of the play tells the story of the happy family life which Kenneth and Hilary had which gradually goes downhill as his elusive affair with Laura develops. Ellen White must be complimented on her ability to play both the sweet, innocent version of Laura at the opening of this flashback and the unhappy, scheming Laura at the end. A fast-paced repetitive montage of their daily routine depicts the declining relationship of Hilary and Kenneth – providing the context for Kenneth’s remarriage.
Throughout, there is an underlying sense that this is really a play about feminism and not adultery, as would be assumed at first glance. The feminine characters outnumber the male and yet the two women are at the mercy of Kenneth. His first wife Hilary is a quintessential representation of a ‘traditional’ wife while his second, Laura, neglects cleaning duties and focuses solely on her own pleasures.
As the play develops the audience learns that Kenneth firmly believes that a woman’s place is in the kitchen and that she should aim to please her husband in all respects, keeping herself in good physical shape so as to be able to entertain in the bedroom. In the end, neither wives can please Kenneth. Eilidh Mackinnon gave a flawless performance portraying her character as the rejected, resentful wife who would naturally be considered a true victim.
The final scene, in which the two wives accidentally kill Kenneth by permitting him to choke on a fishbone, is a classic example of the humour that pervaded the play. The daring nature of the actors who succeeded in conveying humour, tension, and fragility (not to mention the brave way they pulled off a sex scene) is highly commendable considering this was their first play in St Andrews. Without doubt, the future of the theatre scene in St Andrews is in safe hands.