The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband.

Date 23rd November 2019
Society Blackburn Drama Club
Venue Empire Theatre, Blackburn
Type of Production Play
Director Carolanne Connolly
Musical Director N/A
Choreographer Carolanne Connolly
Producer Blackburn Drama Club


Author: Paul R. Mason

Debbie Isitt’s “The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband” was delicious in every respect. An Escoffierian masterpiece. A fabulous honeyed confection drizzled lovingly with succulent tender morsels of briny comedy.

Director Carolanne Connolly had assembled a trio of five-star actors fully capable of instilling something to tickle even the most demanding of taste buds in this bittersweet comedy.

Kenneth has been married for 19 years to Hilary. Over this time she has provided his demanding palate with tasty dishes much to Ken’s delight. Yet eventually his libido is enticed by the charms of Laura. Their first encounter takes place on the dance floor and leads ultimately to murder. Divorced from Hilary and now celebrating 3 years of marriage to Laura, as the play opens we discover the trio seated at a table preparing to celebrate this occasion with a special meal cooked by Laura. 

Then, via a number of flashbacks, we witness the scenes from the past that have led up to this moment.  Well known Elvis songs serve to underline the play. These give the actors the opportunity to interpret them. Their dance moves are brilliantly played out. By using this device they have the chance to illustrate their inner feelings through expressions and physical reactions to each other. The choreography and attention to detail in these dances was remarkable and brought out the very best in the performers. A causal roll of the eyes or a horrified look to the left, while the audience considers what is going through their minds, is an original method of conveying inner meaning to the appreciative audience. 

Far more than a simple comedy, Debbie Isitts’ play is heavily laden with dark disturbing moments. To ensure these moments do not veer off into the realms of tragedy the play must be well modulated by the director. Carolanne, from the point of view of the director looking at the action from the outside, took great pains to ensure the flow of the acting was appropriate to this apparent danger. The timing of the play was exemplary, a master class in how to get the best out of a line without going that millisecond too far and thereby overplaying the emotional pull of the script.  

Neely Jillings is a supremely talented actor. It gives me a great sense of joy to see her name in any cast list confident that I am in for a lesson in how to create a role that is unique and intriguing and thoroughly plausible. Neely’s flexibility, a prerequisite for playing Laura, was shown to its ultimate effect. And all done in the best possible taste of course. It would, however, be wrong of me to say any of the talented trio was better or best. The affinity between them was remarkable. All able to pay off each other in total rapport with their fellow occupiers of the stage. 

Joanne Shepherd as Hilary was incredibly funny. Her movements to illustrate lines were breathtakingly engaging. A relative newcomer to amateur dramatics Joanne shone. Please cast her in lots more plays Blackburn Drama Club. 

Steven Derbyshire is another of those highly competent actors who have the vision and deep understanding of any role to make it unique to him and him alone. His portrait of Kenneth could not be faulted in any way. The audience was enthralled by his performance. By the way, I don’t think I shall ever see a better depiction of death throes.

 How the actors managed to keep the pace up so well in this play where none of them leaves the stage for longer than a few seconds was stunning. 

The set, consisting of one table and three chairs, was challenging yet it created a sense of detachment while conjuring up that magic space within which all things become possible untrammelled by the confining demands of a traditional set. A very liberating concept! 

I can not speak highly enough of this production. It was acting and direction of the very best quality.  Congratulations. 

I must report that the four productions I have had the pleasure of seeing this year staged by Blackburn Drama Club have been of the highest standard. It is remarkable that one society has the ability to attract a pool of actors and directors able to bring such passion and excellence to its local audiences. Thank you.