The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband

Previewed 5 September 2002, Opened 16 September 2002, Closed 30 November 2002 at the Ambassadors Theatre in London

Debbie Isitt directs her own comedy The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband in London starring Alison Steadman and Daisy Donovan

Kenneth and Hilary have been married nearly twenty years, but as middle age encroaches, Kenneth finds himself in the arms of another woman. At first Laura seems to represent everything that is missing from Kennneth's life, but only one little problem... she can't cook. As time goes by Kenneth mourns the loss of Sunday roasts and the comforts of a settled life so when Hilary invites Kenneth and Laura over for dinner together he readily accepts - unaware of what delicacies Hilary has on the menu.

A highly entertaining exploration of jealousy, humiliation, deceit and betrayal which gives an entirely new meaning to the old adage, 'the way to a man's heart: is through his stomach.'

The cast features Alison Steadman as 'Hilary' and Daisy Donovan as 'Laura' with Michael Attwell as 'Kenneth'. Directed by Debbie Isitt with designs by Robert Jones. Debbie Isitt's The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband was first seen at the Royal Court Theatre and the Edinburgh Fringe in the early nineties. Alison Steadman's London theatre credits include Shelagh Stephenson's dark comedy Memory of Water at the Vaudeville Theatre in 1999.

"When I first saw it 11 years ago, I remember thoroughly enjoying The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband... at the time it seemed spiky, sinister, funny and full of witty, feminist panache. Eleven years on it looks awful. The feminist line that men are to be cooked up rather than cooked for seems dated. The directorial style, in which characters mime cigarettes instead of lighting up real ones, looks like a budget cut. The cast, mind you, is tip-top... No amount of chucked-in Elvis songs can dispel the feeling that this canned comedy has passed its used-by date." The Daily Express

"Back in 1991, this cartoon strip of a play consolidated Debbie Isitt’s reputation as a feminist Steven Berkoff. But 11 years later, like Berkoff’s brand of declamatory physicality, it feels as if it’s been reheated once too often... Isitt’s own revival, played out on a garish set of jealous greens and harlot reds, certainly has a stylised, retro feel... Doggerel alternates with pedestrian dialogue and mediocre mime with paranoid soliloquies as the play progresses in splintered scenes. This hyperactive style works best in sketch-like pieces but here it lasts two hours (including an unnecessary interval) and soon wears thin — at this length you want more than caricatures." The Times

"Everything in Debbie Isitt's overblown, mildly entertaining cartoon The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband is either green for envy or red for passion, a rather restricted palate of emotion, illustrative of the piece as a whole. The stylised visual impact, however, is stronger than the verbal thrust . Alison Steadman (in green) amusingly fills out the role of plump, domestic goddess Hilary, traded in by her husband of 19 years for slender Laura (a lady in red) who hates cooking and cleaning, skimpily characterised by Daisy Donovan. I can't imagine what either of them saw in Kenneth, the male chauvinist pig in the middle, who cares only about his own physical appetites. Hilary plots revenge in this dramatic equivalent of junk food. Served hot and fast, it might have hit the spot. In Isitt's laboured production, it takes too long and arrives tepid and unappetising." The Mail on Sunday

The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband in London at the Ambassadors Theatre previewed from 5 September 2002, opened on 16 September 2002 and closed on 30 November 2002