Review: Recipe For a Perfect Wife @ Kings Head Theatre

Franco Milazzo
By Franco Milazzo Last edited 102 months ago
Review: Recipe For a Perfect Wife @ Kings Head Theatre


Emma West and Chloe Thorpe (c) Pavla Ondrova

Talent shows: love them or loathe them, they’re part of British TV’s rich tapestry. In Nadia Papachronopoulou's play, Recipe For A Perfect Wife, we're taken away from a wet night in Highbury's King’s Head pub and sat in the front row of a fictional 1950s show hosted by the ever-so-delightful Sue and her lecherous wag of a husband Hugh as they cast their eye over five perky contestants who are competing to be “Britain’s Best Housewife”. Over the course of fifty minutes, we see them put through their paces as they are tested on their baking skills, make-up prowess and housework ability (“the perfect wife should be either on her feet or on her knees”) all the while affixed with rictus grins. Little girls may be made of sugar and spice and all things nice but these women take pride in their obedience, patriotism and beauty. Round after round, they are whittled down until a lucky winner is presented with a cheque from Vivien of Holloway, real-life sponsors of the play.

The show is most successful when it tries to take us below the lipgloss-thin veneers of the contestants. In the brief monologue each contestant gives as they are eliminated, we're allowed some limited insight into the black cracks of their marriage, be it children, past ambitions or a lost lover. Insights aside, the characters are one-dimensional and underwritten with the humour largely coming from innuendo of the single variety. Given the short running time and at a tenner per head to get in, the play does particularly poorly when compared to this summer’s Camden Fringe shows where for £7.50 you could have seen better theatre for less.

This show hints at the dark social underbelly of the mid-20th century. We hope the writers take these hints and develop a more substantial show, something less Heartbeat and more Mad Men.

Tickets for this show can be bought here.


Nadia's last production was a hit with us.

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Last Updated 27 August 2010