Review: The Wives of Others
VICA GERMANOVA is impressed by this fantastic piece of Tarantino-esque student writing which left the audience with mixed reactions of hilarity and horror
Being a shamelessly huge fan of gangster films and productions, The Wives of Others, which boldly professes to combine “Goodfellas and 12 Angry Men”, “Agatha Christie and Quentin Tarantino”, held an irresistible tug. Wine, women, guns and Italian food – what more could you want?
Indeed, that is an entirely apt summary for what went down during the 90 minutes the actors had the stage. The girls’ fantastically honed Italian mobster-wife accents signposted from the outset the touch of black comedy pervading the entire thing, despite its quick descent into all-guns-blazing, gangland-style chaos.
Okay, admittedly, the descent wasn’t that ‘quick’ – there were a good twenty minutes or so in the middle of the piece that could well have been cut, as the continual name-dropping of various Mafia clans, punctuated throughout by so many ‘fuck yous’ that I actually found myself tiredly murmuring that instead of ‘thank you’ en route out, became more than a little confusing and hard to follow.
That said, when the action kicked off, it kicked off with a bang. The influence of Quentin Tarantino on Tom Stuchfield’s latest, awe-inspiring drama became clear with the spotlight and characteristic metallic jangling which accompanied every gunshot – and the fountains of blood spraying everywhere did a lot more than provoke a touch of sympathy for the ADC cleaners.
The performances were, in general, intrinsically powerful. Tania Clarke’s transformation from her moment of entry to the final, blood-drenched finalé, literally sent goosebumps down both mine and my companions’ spines. The direction was clearly another strength, for even when parts of the script let the actors down, the girls’ use of the space and body language interactions maintained the audience’s interest, and saved what could have been an enormous dip in concentration.
The disparity in audience reaction, ranging from hysterical laughter to genuine shock, at the ending proved, however, that on one level, at least, Stuchfield succeeded: creating a piece of theatre which was simultaneously a soap opera, filled with powerful, strong-willed characters’ bitching and tussles, and a reflection on more powerful themes of abuse, criminality, and parental failure.
Despite its occasional forthcomings, it sure beat Wednesday Cindies – with only marginally more arguments, drama and bloodloss.