Stars explained: * A production of no real merit with failings in all areas. ** A production showing evidence of not enough time or effort, or even talent, and which never breathes any real life into the piece – or a show lumbered with a terrible script. *** A good enjoyable show which might have some small flaws but has largely achieved what it set out to do.**** An excellent show which shows a great deal of work and stage craft with no noticeable or major flaws.***** A four star show which has found that extra bit of magic which lifts theatre to another plane.
Half stars fall between the ratings

One wife too many . . .

First Things First

Highbury Players

Highbury Theatre Centre


This won't be the first review that will mention opening night nerves as a performance stumbling block but in this smart little farce by former Brian Rix cohort, Derek Benfield, there are no big visual wardrobe gags or otherwise  for performance jitters to hide behind - it's all about explanations.

Explanations mean dialogue and boy there is lots of it. Unfortunately almost everyone seemed to be struggling with the purple mist at some point and therefore the explanations that were intended to stoke the humour and tension in the predicament were often just plain confusing.

The principal story is: Pete is six months into his second marriage, 18 months after his  first wife, Jessica, went missing on a mountaineering holiday in Tibet.  George, his mate and former best man, arrives to bring him the news that his first wife's demise might not be quite as terminal as was at first thought and, indeed, she may well have made somewhat of a recovery.

Pete opts to not to tell his new wife that she's now one wife too many. When his former spouse turns up for real, neither of them can tell her the same story and so the web of pretence begins.


What was a shame is that while everyone was searching for the text the relationship drama was also lost. So just a couple of minutes after the re-appearance of the believed dead  Jessica, played sweetly by Dee White, it casually felt like she was just a tad late home from an evening engagement rather than long lost in a snowy crevasse.

Every team has its star player though and for me George played by Robert Hicks was the most convincing putting many a derailed moment back on track with a calmness and timing that earned him the biggest laughs on the night.

Martin Walker did well as Pete hardly leaving the stage at any point and clearly handling the lion's share of the dialogue.

When the train did get running it was all really good and the sustained pressure needed to deliver this kind of comedy came back.

This production will definitely improve over the next 11 days as when it stayed on track, it clearly showed that the entire team had more than enough steam to reach their destination. To 18-02-12

Jeff Grant 

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