A lesson in marriage break-up

Polly Lister
Polly Lister
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I Was A Wife, The Dukes, Lancaster

Polly Lister is a first-class actress.

Her credentials as one half of a marriage are much less certain, and are laid bare in this emotionally-searing, one-woman monologue about the implosion of her relationship As you would expect, it’s a highly-personal performance which has grown out of this theatre’s Kick Start initiative, designed to find new work for production.

Recalling the parts she played, at theatres around the region while her marriage disintegrated, the actress returns to those characters, and their costumes, and occasionally engages in conversations with them. The one plot she’s lost, and which remains distinctly hazy to the audience, is where it all went wrong.

There’s drama, and some comedy, to those recollections, but whether it all comes together as a play is questionable. A dramaturg – brought in as belated marriage guidance counsellor – might have advised on the structure (90 minutes straight-through rather than two acts?) or on the chronology, or sudden changes of tone, to the story telling. The raw honesty of Polly Lister’s predicament would then remain intact, but avoid the feeling of sometimes sitting in a lesson rather than a theatre. I Was A Wife runs until next Saturday.

David Upton