The World's Wife (4 stars)

This article is from 2009

The World's Wife

Poetry in motion

There are some things in life that even a suspicious Fringe audience can trust in, and Linda Marlowe interpreting the poems of Carol Ann Duffy’s best-known collection is a double gold-star guarantee of quality.

Marlowe is a phenomenal performer, and the 19 utterly different women she inhabits are a very real reminder that there simply are not enough diverse roles for older actresses. She goes from coquettish, sexually charged adolescent in ‘Little Red Cap’ to feminist gangland enforcer(s) in ‘The Kray Sisters’; the splendid, short, one-joke pieces ‘Mrs Darwin’ and ‘Frau Freud’ hit the audience like thunderbolts and leave them helpless with laughter at her slightest inflection or facial motion, and Mrs Faust reinvented as a possible Mrs Fred Goodwin leaves a well-shod Assembly audience chuckling, but slightly uncomfortable.

However, it’s penultimate piece, ‘The Devil’s Wife’, that sticks in the memory, even without the programme note that this poem is about Myra Hindley. The frightening, haunted amoral skelf Marlowe becomes as she stares out from behind a barred chair, choking out incoherent denials, ought to become one of the defining images of this year’s Fringe.

Assembly Rooms, 623 3030, until 31 Aug, 1.50pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11).

World's Wife

  • 4 stars

New adaptation of Carol Ann Duffy's poems imagining famous men from their wives' perspectives. From Frau Freud to Queen Kong, this darkly funny show slices through history and myth, casting an astute glance over the modern world.