It had been months since I read the West End Whingers’ positive review of When We Are Married, but I kept putting off going until I realized the show was getting close to the end of its run. Conveniently, a Metro offer for half priced tickets came out in January and I saw this as my opportunity to finally get off the horse and see this show.
As it turns out, I wish I hadn’t bothered. While I have nothing against seeing a show with an audience full of more gray hair than a Madeira hotel in January, I could have lived without their loud chatter during the show. And what, exactly, was fuelling their enthusiasm? Clearly some of the actors struck a nerve – I think most of them are best known for television work – and the set got its own round of applause as the curtain rose (never a good sign). But the play felt like an over-fed sitcom, with a comedy element (“Oh noes, arrogant pillars of Edwardian society discover they’re living in sin”) drug out from the 55 minutes it merited to a full two hours with interval, leaving me sitting there yawning while a drunk photographer shmoozed a young maid. Ooh gosh, being tiddly is so funny, and doesn’t she have the most humorous accent?
Even more offensive was the story line of the henpecked husband and his wife. Once he discovers they’re not married, he’s now free to hit her! Boy, didn’t people laugh! Isn’t it great when a strong woman is finally beaten down! Ha ha ha!
As I dragged myself back to my seat after the interval, I heard a delighted audience member say, “This is very exciting for us country bumpkins.” Is it really, now? It seems like this is possibly the perfect play for readers of the Telegraph and Daily Mail, who might be offended by any slightly modern storyline but still want to have an annual night at the theater and have already exhausted the pleasures of The Mousetrap (while the much more worthy Clybourne Park was opening up the street). I’m all for more plays with older actors, but When We Are Married should be shot where it sits and never be allowed out the door again.
(This review is for a performance that took place on February 8th, 2011. It continues until February 26th, at which point something that can only be better will replace it.)