Samuel Adamson’s (The Light Princess National Theatre, All About My Mother Old Vic) new play Wife, directed by Indhu Rubasingham has opened to critical acclaim at the Kiln Theatre in North London.
Set against the backdrop of Ibsen’s A Doll’s House, Adamson exquisitely explores the institution of marriage and individual freedom over the course of ninety year from 1959 and its impact on those branded ‘Wife’.
The stellar cast features Richard Cant (Saint Joan Donmar Warehouse), Karen Fishwick (Our Ladies of Perpetual Succour National Theatre), Pamela Hardman (The Dresser Duke of York’s), Joshua James (Lady Windemere’s Fan Vaudeville Theatre), Calam Lynch (Derry Girls) and Sirina Saba (Anthony and Cleopatra Shakespeare’s Globe).
Wife is playing until 6 July 2019 at Kiln Theatre, London.
Read a round-up of reviews below.
“Adamson’s discrete episodes are held together by two things. One is the familial link between the characters. The other, even more crucial, is the idea that we are still wrestling with the problem Ibsen confronted in a pioneering way: how to balance personal freedom with equality in relationships. Adamson suggests we are a long way off achieving this.”
“The play is alive, endlessly curious, inventively staged by Indhu Rubasingham, with six excellent actors assuming multiple roles.”
“You could argue that Adamson is better at capturing homosexual than heterosexual relationships, but the great quality of his play is that it shows we are still waiting for the miracle promised at the end of A Doll’s House and that the quest for the ideal continues.”
Michael Billington, Guardian
Time Out ★★★★
“Samuel Adamson’s new play grabs at big, enduring questions about gender and queerness through the ages. It’s also, gloriously, often as camp as Christmas: think ‘The Hours’, but with killer putdowns.”
Tom Wicker, Time Out
Evening Standard ★★★★
“A quirky and clever homage to Ibsen’s A Doll’s House. Adamson explores changing ideas of desire, prejudice and equality by imagining four distinct interpretations of Ibsen’s masterpiece. It’s funny, racy and clever. The very idea of theatre’s power and political substance is ripe for debate”
Henry Hitchings, Evening Standard
The Stage ★★★★
“The more familiar you are with A Doll’s House, the better you’ll be able to appreciate the scope, sophistication and fierce intelligence with which Samuel Adamson’s new play interrogates Ibsen’s themes of personal freedom and domestic imprisonment in an LGBT+ context.”
“It’s remarkable, both structurally and stylistically. Adamson’s dialogue is effervescent and authentic throughout, ideas flowing almost as fast as the words.”
Fergus Morgan, The Stage
“Just as Nora’s original slamming of the door on her marriage in 1879 caused cultural ripples all over Europe, so Adamson’s thrillingly written play is full of echoes as each scene is a thematic recapitulation of the previous ones. The result is an evening both humorous and thought-provoking.”
Aleks Sierz, The Arts Desk
The Times ★★
“A curious beast in which Ibsen’s Nora is used as a way of examining unsatisfactory marriages, gay and straight, over the period of decades. Adamson uses Nora almost as a lure, dangled before us, making us want to keep watching.”
Ann Treneman, The Times
The Telegraph ★★★★
“Ibsen’s A Doll’s House renovated and extended to inspiring effect. In Wife, Samuel Adamson ingeniously revisits the play, and springboards from reprised versions of that scene to explore shifting theatrical approaches and evolving societal norms about marriage and personal relations”
Dominic Cavendish, The Telegraph
“Wife brings forward the vanished history of the private agonies of a more repressive era, terrifically engineering a modern-day reckoning”
Gay Times ★★★★★
“Ambitious, intelligent and genuinely very witty play. This is an outstanding and utterly essential new piece of LGBTQ+ theatre – not to be missed”
The New European ★★★★★
“This is bold, challenging theatre”
Broadway World ★★★★
“This is a piece about family, marriage and relationships.”
Average rating score for this production:
Date: 6 June 2019
Written by: Simon Raven
Tags: Kiln Theatre, Samuel Adamson, Wife