Grooming The Constant Wife

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Artwork by Ken Coleman

“I have always liked Somerset Maugham and have read his novels, for which he is better known – ‘The Moon and Sixpence’, ‘Of Human Bondage’ and so on. ‘The Constant Wife’ is a strong play for women and with good parts.

“There are always more women than men available in amateur drama,” is the practical observation made “although we have often done plays that are male dominated in character. There are more of them written.”

For this upper middle class tale of a comfortably got wife entering the work place as part of a strategic, subversive quest, the Kerryman has gathered around his Torch ensemble. Joanne O’Brien is the principal Constance Middelton; Antoinette Portley, her mother Mrs Culver; Katie Dowling is sister Martha and the faithless best friend Marie Louise is played by Miriam Ball. Dan Mooney is Dr Middleton, spouse and patronising Harley Street doctor. On then to Peter Hayes, a jealous Mortimer married to Marie Louise.

There are nine on stage in all, playing out arch or innocent and gossipy lives in Edwardian drawing rooms.

“We started reading in October and rehearsals began the week before Christmas. While it’s a polished British comedy of manners set in the 1920s, this is also a feminist play although it presents as somewhat antifeminist at the beginning”.

Look back to the times in which Maugham was writing, after the tumultuous fight for suffrage, the deaths, threats, marches, rebellion and oppression. He had his own battle with homosexuality in a forbidden, despised era.

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“The central tension is about this affair Constance’s husband is having with Marie Louise. It’s a witty, upbeat play,” he smiles. There’s a hint that the cool, kind wife maybe anything other than a gulled mug for her husband.

Anticipate a finely costumed production, wit and wits clashing and an exit plan of commanding indulgence for particulars concerned. And unconcerned.

Book on www.limetreetheatre.ie for Belltable.