The Constant Wife @ The Crescent Theatre

the constant wifeA trip to the theatre isn’t what many students would consider to do on a Wednesday evening. What with cheap entertainment on BBC Iplayer and free live distractions in pubs, the theatre is probably the last place many would think of to spend their evenings. And I must admit I myself was apprehensive of it all leading up to it. But all of those doubtful apprehensions dispersed the moment I stepped into the theatre. After a lively chat with the work staff and a slow wait for the theatre doors to open in the theatre bar, I was greeted with the sight of a small and cosy auditorium. At the very centre of the hall was a set of props where the performance was to be played. After being seated with the assistance of the butler from the play, another insightful piece of direction from Jaz Davison (the play’s director), the atmosphere started to heat up.

The summary of the play went: “Constance is calm, intelligent and self-possessed. Her husband, a successful London doctor is having an affair with her best friend. Her friends know about it. Her mother knows about it. Her sister knows about it. What they have failed to understand is that Constance knows about it, too, and is ready to put things right in her own very special way.” And Constance (played by Liz Plumpton) stole the entire show. With Jaz Davison’s condensing of the play into two acts, there were both moments of free flowing comedic discourse, and moments of heightened emotive events.

With that in mind the other real success of the play was its relation to the modern day world. The play on sensibilities, feminism (still a massive area of debate in the media today) and double standards was entwined with comedic discourse and action. As they say the best way to get any important message or debate across is to use humour. Yet still alongside all of these virtues it was Constance who had us all wound round her little finger. Without revealing many major spoilers, it was Constance who came into her own. Throughout the first act she used comic deception to fool the audience, and her mother and sister (played by Danielle Spittle and Wanda Raven respectively), into reactions of pity, whilst slowly uncovering all the deceptions around her. She twisted and twirled in the latter half of the performance and quite literally came out on top through intricate deceptions and tricks which even after the showing I can’t comprehend fully. The way she outmanoeuvred us all subtly and revealed her control and mastery of a game (which we thought she would lose most indefinitely) made us all leave the theatre with more gratitude and expectance.

The displays of comedic prowess entangled with scenes of pin-drop silences created a charged atmosphere throughout that small auditorium. We weren’t watching Constance’s life, we were living it and recreating it with her.

As a first time play-goer the experience was like no other. Compared to something else it was akin to watching your own favourite TV show in 3D from every angle, but being able to judge the reactions of several different characters, without (as I’m used to) having a camera zoomed into their faces. It was, to use an over-popularised word, realistic. More than that it was lively and sitting in a small room watching people have conversations and embarrassing moments is just like the pub in some ways, just a little less loud but just as pleasurable.

By Shantok Jetha

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