In an ordinary house in a tree-lined street in Lewisham, pregnant Rowena is unprepared for her first meeting with Maurice’s three wives and teenaged son. She’s warmly welcomed, but her presence soon has the family questioning the nature of their delicate balance. Then Fay brings home a one-night stand, with far-reaching consequences for them all.
Larry Lamb plays Maurice, with Sorcha Cusack, Carla Henry, Clare Holman, Martina Laird and Tessa Peake-Jones as the titular harem of wives, newcomer Adam Gillen as son Vincent and Steve John Shepherd as the disruptive one-night stand. The production is directed by Sarah Frankcom and designed by Ti Green.
While most first-night critics fell in between two stools in their judgements of the new play – recognising Charman’s developing talent, they were intrigued by the premise and amused by some witty dialogue, but questioned the message and perceived implausibilities – there were two extremes. In support of Five Wives, Whatstonstage.com’s own critic Michael Coveney declared it “one of the best, and most promising, plays of the year so far”; at the other end of the spectrum, the Daily Telegraph’s Charles Spencer another dismissed it as a “deeply second-rate” sitcom pilot.
- by Terri Paddock