The Country Wife

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

25/06/2009 - 04/07/2009

Production Details

This play, which was first performed in 1675 to much acclaim, was considered later to be so bawdy that it was not performed in its original version until the 1920s. 

The play has several subplots but mainly focuses on the intrigues of Mr Horner, a man about town who enjoys the favours of many a woman about town, the more safely married the better.

One such person is the young, inexperienced married woman, Margery Pinchwife, up from the country to discover the joys of the town, whether her husband approves or not.  It is very funny, very naughty and will be a great antidote to the winter’s cold.

June 25th to July 4th, 2009 (except Monday June 29th)
8pm every day except Sunday (2pm)
$15 general public
$12 seniors, students, other unwaged people
$10 Globe members, parties of 10 or more people
Opening night special:
$8 all general public, $6 Globe members

Phone (03) 4773274  or door sales

Horner                     Bill Needs 
Quack                     Chris Summers
Boy                         Jim Rosegarden
Harcourt                  Connor Blackie
Sparkish                  Vincent Batt
Pinchwife               Campbell Thomson
Sir Jasper Fidget      Bill Borlase
Lady Fidget             Terry MacTavish
Mrs Dainty Fidget    Janice Snowden
Mrs Squeamish        Lynne Keen 
Margery Pinchwife   Natalie Milne
Alithea                     Laura Wells
Lucy                        Kimberley Buchan
Old Lady Squeamish    Davida Corballis  (any suitable name you want!)

Set Construction            Andrew Cook
Stage Manager/Props    Sarah McCallion
StageCrew                    Sarah McCallion, Jim Rosegarden
Lighting                         Phillip Todd
Wardrobe                      Rachael McCann
Make-up                       Natalie Milne
Poster Design                Pat Corballis

Enormously entertaining

Review by Barbara Frame 30th Jun 2009

Naughty, naughty. Between 1753 and 1924, William Wycherley’s The Country Wife was considered so depraved that it was performed only in severely bowdlerised versions.

The country wife is Margery Pinchwife (played gleefully in the Globe’s production by Natalie Milne), brought to town by her jealous bumpkin husband (Campbell Thomson). Pinchwife hopes his young wife will not be infected by London society’s affectation, pretension and hypocrisy. HIs extreme attention to this matter only ensures that his efforts are self-defeating, for Margery, eager for intrigue, proves a quick and enthusiastic learner.

Unlike Margery, her sister-in-law Alithea (Laura Wells) is tired of artifice, and wants to get out of marrying the foppish Sparkish (Vincent Batt) so she can find uncomplicated happiness with true-love Harcourt (Connor Blackie), but paradoxically this takes a lot of scheming and subterfuge. Meanwhile the notorious Horner (Bill Needs), whose main occupation is cuckolding, spreads a rumour about himself which, as all the ladies somehow know, isn’t true.

The play has all the hallmarks of Restoration comedy: tangled sub-plots, convoluted contrivances, reversals, hasty entrances and exits, barely concealed identities. It’s crammed with double-entendres, which often sail right over the heads of other characters to be picked up and enjoyed by the audience – notably in the "china" scene where Lady Fidget (Terry McTavish) and Horner are supposedly admiring porcelain but are actually doing something quite different.

The Country Wife‘s stinging satire perhaps resonates less today, but it’s all enormously entertaining. One of the play’s great assets is its mix of wonderful characters, and, under the direction of David Corballis, a very talented cast make the most of every comic possibility. Elaborately detailed costumes by Rachael McCann help to make the production a visual feast and an exuberantly, shamelessly bawdy mid-winter treat. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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Curly-wigged artifice, witty circumlocution and downright intrigue

Review by Helen Watson White 29th Jun 2009

Midwinter revels in Dunedin, begun with an impressive lantern procession in the Octagon, continue in the Globe’s lively production of a Restoration favourite, dating from London’s winter season in 1675.

While our men may struggle with the degree of feminization required by the highly mannered style of the period, the women seem to relish the necessity of portraying sexual aggression in peacock (rather than peahen) fashion: all quivering intensity, with sharp beak downplayed in scenes that purport to be all about display.

The country wife brought to town of course knows nothing of its mores or ‘manners’ – not good but bad manners in this case – nor of the manipulation necessary for society ladies to serve their desires while keeping their honour (that is, their marriages, let alone hairdos) intact. Natalie Milne as Margery Pinchwife gives a delicious performance of the innocent who’s strayed onto the set of a Fellini film and follows her own heart instead of some invisible writer’s script. Her jealous husband, just as limited but not quite as lovable, is played with vigour (if overmuch bluster) by Campbell Thompson, who doesn’t have too much trouble with Restoration style as he, like her, is meant to provide the unpretentious contrast.

Romantic leads Horner and Harcourt (Bill Needs and Connor Blackie) do best in the stylish stakes. Needs, however, teeters on the edge of Kiwi normality at times with an unforced heartiness and warmth breaking through. He can be forgiven his dashing (nearly-too-strong) stride; pace is essential in a play already condensed so as not to be too long. Connor Blackie’s Harcourt does not stride but stands about simpering: the least attractive behaviour in a male, perhaps, but the stuff of lace-coated lewdness in parlours brocade-lined. It makes him – by contrast – the more convincing when in his suit to Alithea he cuts to the point and speaks dangerously plain.

Bluster, however, sometimes gets the better of Vincent Batts as Sparkish, Alithea’s fiancé. The guy is stupid, certainly, but too far over the top and he presents as insane. Full marks, nonetheless, for any male who can carry off an icecream-wrapping of a costume topped by blond permed wig with ribbons and bows.

Even in this company the women out-peacock the cocks, particularly Terry MacTavish as Lady Fidget, going after Horner as the beagles follow the horn in a hunt (and yes, the names are apt). Restless with lust, she puts all her energy into pretending she’s not, and other high-born ladies – a whole pack of them suggested by this representative trio – do the same. The joke that Horner is rumoured to have been eunuched in France enables them all to beat a path to his door.

The country wife lands up there too, not having heard the rumour, but believing the town’s talking-point fell in love with her on her first theatre outing. Plays within plays. The comedy’s most famous act is the "china scene", in which Lady Fidget (MacTavish at her outrageous best) is drawn into Horner’s inner-room to see not his etchings but his antique porcelain, unaware that their version of "our little secret" – that he is not in fact neutered – is shared by her friends.

While others – including a more than usually outspoken maid and a pantomimic Old Lady Squeamish – also have show-stealing moments, the limelight is justifiably awarded to Laura Wells as Alithea. Her beauty shines out, not because of the polish put upon it but because of an integrity otherwise hard to find in this context of curly-wigged artifice, witty circumlocution and downright intrigue.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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