Wish I Had a Sylvia Plath
Surreal Plathian recollections
This article is from 2007.
Edward Anthony’s play takes us back into a mock suburbia of the 50s to explore the last hours and recollections of the poet of the title, here renamed Esther. Ted Hughes, in turn, becomes Ned Pughes and, as in all Plathian accounts of his life with her, he comes off as a selfish and vain philanderer.
But the piece is by no means a straight biography, choosing instead to explore a myriad of thoughts which, it speculates, might have run through Plath’s mind in her latter moments. These include a surrealistic Homes and Gardens-style television show, on which Plath plays host, documenting, Delia-like, a succession of recipes for personal disaster. There are some genuine comic highlights to the piece early on, with Plath’s (Elisabeth Gray) interactions with multimedia projections of her parents, Hughes and his mistress all being part of the fun, and there’s also a nice line in talking ovens. But whether these fully mesh with the unremitting darkness of the second half is a moot point. All the same, Gray’s performance shows plenty of wit and physical vigour, and it’s worth the admission even for those less interested in the poet herself. (Steve Cramer)
Underbelly Baby Belly, 0870 745 3083, until 26 Aug, 1.45pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).