Monday, 25 June 2007
Review: The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder
I enjoyed Matt Charman’s first play, A Night at the Dogs (at the Soho Theatre 2 years ago), much more than I did his second, The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder, at The Cottesloe. The first play deals mostly with male protagonists in quite a laddish set up, the second is much more balanced with both sexes fully represented, and I think that Charman’s female characters are too weakly drawn and unbelievable to carry me very far. The play is about our eponymous Mr Pinder and, unsurprisingly, his wives. He is a polygamist of a secular nature and no particular conviction, though within the law by not being legally (which means illegally) married to each of his ‘wives’ at the same time. He’s just a nice bloke who fancies more than one female companion, variety is the spice of life I suppose. Beyond this his motivations are unclear, a universal father figure perhaps, probably a penchant for girls in distress, who knows? But his wives are even less understandable; one (the first wife) is clearly not too happy at the husband sharing arrangements and begins to crack, eventually contributing (along with a wife too far in the second act) to the whole family set up breaking down. But the reason for these seemingly clever working women to move into chez Pinder as an addition to the rota of night time visits from the universal husband is mystifying. Certainly the impracticalities of having more than one partner are shown up, but I never felt a particular message beyond that shining through the play, and a cast including Larry Lamb (Pinder), Scorcha Cusack and Steven John Shepherd should inspire more than apathy in me. However Sarah Frankcom does get some good performances out of the cast, despite the rather inane script. Ti Geen's set design is the champion of the evening though, she wonderfully conjures a suburban house, garden and all, fully covering the small auditorium, which the audience are positioned throughout. Overall a disappointing and rather flat evening I’m afraid.