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The Theatreguide.London Review

How To Be An Other Woman
Gate Theatre      Autumn 2010

Lorrie Moore's classic 1985 story is less a how-to guide than a description of a typical affair, told in the form of instructions: here's how you'll meet, this is how long you'll wait before going to bed with him, here's how you'll react when he admits he's married, and so on.

Adaptor-director Natalie Abrahami has turned it into a smooth-flowing if somewhat predictable stage piece for four actresses, who take turns donning the stylish raincoat that makes them The Woman or the hat and scarf that identifies The Man, with the other two being the voice of the book.

Abrahami choreographs the action in a continuous flowing movement, set to a deliberately cheesy Muzak-like soundscape that is part disco-lite and part 1950s romantic pop, and keeps the action in 1980s Manhattan, with passing references to then-stylish places and brand names.

The story thus enacted pays full justice to the romance, the absurd comedy and the ultimate sadness of a typical illicit romance.

And it's in that 'typical' that the play's biggest weakness lies, because although Moore has a sharp eye for telling details, like how the mistress won't be able to resist exploring and judging the wife's closets, there aren't too many surprises is what is a preordained and predictable story arc.

As a result, there is little forward impetus and no suspense, and even at just one hour's running time, the piece begins to drag.

That, however, is all a matter of the raw material, and if your interest in the story begins to wane, you can always enjoy Abrahami's clever and stylish staging and the impeccable performances of Faye Castelow, Samantha Pearl, Ony Uhiara and Cath Whitefield.

Gerald Berkowitz

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Review of How To Be An Other Woman - Gate Theatre 2010


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