Review – The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder

Thursday 19 July 2007

Five Wives of Maurice PinderAndrew’s a sucker for triangles. Or to be exact Triangle – the fabulously misconceived soap opera set on board a North Sea ferry from the olden days of when Andrew would condescend to dip his grimy toe into the choppy waters of TV.

So when he spotted that Triangle‘s Larry Lamb (whose National Theatre CV mentions only recent telly – thus precluding Triangle – is he ashamed of it?) was to star at the National Theatre in Matt Charman’s new play The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder, Phil was left with no alternative but to accompany him.

And do you know what? It turned out to be one of the Whingers’ most enjoyable evenings out for a long while.

They were in and out of the Cottesloe in a record 45 minutes.

It’s true that the play rumbled on for a further 1 hour and 55 minutes without them, but the Whingers were by this time frolicking in the fountains outside the Royal Festival Hall beneath a lovely summer evening sky and drinking cheap red wine.

five-wives_149brezo3.jpgThe Five Wives of Maurice Pinder is about a man called Maurice Pinder and his five wives. And his son. They live together in Lewisham.

Anyway, enough about the play.

The fountains outside the Royal Festival Hall are excellent. It’s actually an art installation we suppose because it’s got a name – “Appearing Rooms” – but basically it’s an opportunity to get very wet and squeal like a girl (if Andrew’s behaviour is anything to go by) and the later you go, the fewer children you have to push over to get on it.

Here’s Phil (he’s the taller one in the picture):

Phil in the fountain

And here’s Andrew:

Andrew in the fountain

Yes, the Whingers had found their inner children at last.

Actually, Phil claims that he never really lost his inner child and that it’s a typical sign of Andrew’s general carelessness that he has.

Andrew maintains that the fact that Phil has an inner child explains (finally!) that strange lump that’s he’s always been too embarrassed to ask about.

Anyway, this agreeable jollity was followed by wine time on the terrace during which each Whinger confessed to his embarrassing school drama days.

Phil spoke wistfully of the first time he got to wear a dress when he was cast as a god in The Good Woman of Setzuan (accompanied presumably to the sound of Bertolt Brecht spinning fitfully in his grave like a tumble drier on its last legs).

Andrew – having attended an altogether less pretentious establishment – revealed that he choreographed (and was principal – naturally – dancer in) Hey, Big Spender as part of a “musical miscellany” (accompanied presumably by the sounds of parents’ jaws dropping onto the school hall parquet).

But in case you want to know more about the play:

  • TFWOMP also stars Sorcha (sic) Cusak, sister of Phil’s recent travelling companion Sinead, although regrettably this travel involved only an aeroplane and not the glamour of a North Sea ferry.
  • It resembles a sitcom, although the average episode of the woefully unfunny My Family would provide more laughs.
  • Phil thought he’d stumbled into a stage adaptation of Big Brother. The set comprised a house, a dried out lawn, a caravan at the bottom of the garden, a houseful of mixed-race women anticipating the arrival of a new housemate. One’s a homemaker, one’s a flirt, one wants to leave, but they all want the same man. Uncanny really.
  • Phil had one single moment of pleasure when he saw a rather dismal salad make an appearance. His ever growing catalogue on on-stage food had been somewhat lacking in the salad chapter. This rather paltry offering wouldn’t have fed two in his abundant kitchen, but here it had to be eked out between six characters. Pinder may have his cake and eat it, but he’s not gonna get much salad.
  • A very strange performance by newcomer Adam Gillen, playing seventeen going on twelve was part-panto, part-Blood Brothers. Possibly this was explained later in the play.
  • Even the normally excellent Clare Holman couldn’t make anything out of this dismal material.
  • Slack direction combined with a kind of traverse stage configuration meant any dramatic tension was lost as you were either looking at the back of an actor’s head or on top of it.
  • Phil passed the time by leaning back in his seat and watching it between the bars of the balcony. This enabled him to block out the audience on the other side of the auditorium and imagine he was watching in Cinemascope.

As the Whingers beat a hasty retreat to the cloakroom to collect their bags even the attendant showed no surprise. “Not one of our best efforts is it?” he admitted.

Anyway, back to Triangle:

Larry Lamb’s programme credits are much more extensive than on the NT website than in the programme, but there’s still no mention of Triangle. So the Whingers feel it is their duty to out him. Larry Lamb was in Triangle! Shout it loud and proud Larry.

Here’s the classic title sequence. Doesn’t it look glamorous?

6 Responses to “Review – The Five Wives of Maurice Pinder”

  1. Sean Says:

    Totally agree about this play, leaving at the interval was a good choice! Misjudged is the word that kep coming to mind about this production.

    Also like the water feature, Somerset House eat your heart out!


  2. Oh, I don’t know. I didn’t think it was that bad, I kind of liked the contrast of the bland sitcom style with the unusual family set up. I thought there was the nugget of something interesting in there, though it definitely needed a lot more work. Agree about the salad though, that bugged me no end.

  3. Blue Frog Says:

    Adam Gillen’s strange performance wasn’t explained later in the play. We could only conclude that it was a deliberate (albeit mis-judged and downright peculiar) ‘character choice’.

  4. Webcowgirl Says:

    Bless your hearts for warning me off this dog. I know some folks who live in arrangements like this and their lives don’t sound the least bit like the play.

  5. Phantom Says:

    Actually, I completely disagree and think it deserved the (mainly) positive reviews from the national papers. I thought all the characters were believable, I really enjoyed the humour in the writing, and think it was an interesting subject choice. I also thought the set was great; I must admit it’s a bit Big Brother now you mention it, but I think that’s a positive thing because it means it created a very intimate, fly-on-the-wall type atmosphere.

  6. jo Says:

    Thanks for the fountain tip off Whingers, much more fun than just getting wet in the usual way.


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