Plested and Brown: They're not really married
Newbury Comedy Festival :Plested and Brown’s The Perfect Wife Roadshow, at The Corn Exchange, Newbury, on Friday July 16
THEY may be the resident theatre company at New Greenham Arts, but 2010 should be remembered as the year that Plested and Brown went mega - in West Berkshire, anyway - with a sell-out performance at The Corn Exchange of their latest comedy show, complete with a live band and “live girls”.
Treading similar ground to 2003’s The Reconditioned Wife Show, and featuring the same characters, David and Lizzie Barry - now “Dr Lizzie” (Clare Plested) thanks to an internet doctorate - The Perfect Wife Roadshow was a bullet-point guide to how a wife can improve a tired marriage and stop being a “seven-year b***h” through the application of advice such as “put a sock in it”, “brush it off” and “surrender”. Dr Lizzie’s clearly imperfect husband Dave (Adam Brown) couldn’t believe his luck at being the focus of such devotion, and was oblivious that these “bullet points” did not always play out to his advantage... or was he?
The Perfect Wife Roadshow was inspired by the Surrendered Wives movement, which suggests that women relinquish control of their husbands’ lives and behave in a more feminine manner, and is rich source of comedy material (although it transpired that its advocates didn’t have much of a sense of humour when they demanded that The Surrendered Wife Show was renamed “Reconditioned”. Unsurprisingly Plested and Brown avoided annoying them again this time round).
While Corn Exchange pantomime favourites Plested and Brown’s previous self-penned shows have been two-handers, The Perfect Wife Roadshow was a glitzy full-scale affair, complete with the on-stage band and three additional “Wives” - advocates of Dr Lizzie - who obliged to step into her domestic scenarios as various household implements, from shower curtains to an ironing board. They also provided some belting musical interludes to illustrate the bullet points - courtesy of Plested and Brown’s collaboration with musical director Paul Herbert - and a foil to Dave as it dawned on him that his wife may not always have his best interests at heart.
Many of the audience would have seen the show in its developmental stage during Plested and Brown’s regular “Mucking Around” sessions at New Greenham Arts, and this investment, plus the warmth that so many around West Berkshire feel towards their local talent, meant that this was always going to be an easy crowd to please. However, it turned out that Plested and Brown have delivered another zinger. Some may miss the intimacy of their earlier smaller-scale two-handers, but the central duo held their own in the expanded forum, and while they may have been outsung by their three acolytes, their instinct for physical and verbal comedy loomed as large as ever.
- First published in the Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, July 22