What sometimes can feel like watching your fun aunt hold court at a family reunion devolves into a play that overstays it’s welcome.


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What sometimes can feel like watching your fun aunt hold court at a family reunion devolves into a play that overstays it’s welcome.

Director(s) Indhu Rubasingham
Writer(s) Adapted By Zadie Smith from Chaucers “The Wife of Bath”
Venue or Network (In-Person) Harvey Theater at BAM Strong
Performance Date April 5, 2023
First Performance At This Venue April 1, 2023
Last Performance At This Venue April 16, 2023
Venue URL The Wife of Willesden Link
Tickets Starting At $35.00
Genre(s) Play, Comedy, Romance
Duration 1 Hour 40 Minutes
Noted Performers
Alvita Clare Perkins

Summary

In a pub in North London, Brent, to be exact, people are telling stories, drinking, and having a good time. But while many of the stories don’t amount to much more than people loving to hear themselves talk or embellish, there is Alvita. She is Fifty-five years young, married five times, a spitfire, a lover, and a storyteller, unlike all others.

She gives the gift of taking her experience as a wife, a woman, a being passionate about life, and does her best to make the story funny and honest but a lesson to be learned. One that many who she is holding court with should be keen to hear.

Things To Note

  • Dialog: Men being misogynistic
  • Violence: conversations about domestic violence
  • Sexual Content: implied sexual acts
  • Miscellaneous: drinking

Collected Quote(s)

Character Descriptions

Please Note: This character guide is not an exhaustive list of every cast member, and character descriptions may contain what can be considered spoilers.

Alvita

Fifty-five years young, Alvita’s first marriage was at 19, and since then, she has gone through a wild ride when it comes to love. Some of the men were better than others, but clearly, divorce was always an option because they didn’t fully get her. But,

  • You May Also Know The Actor From Being: Kerene Nagashi in “The Wheel of Time,” Lydia Thompson in “Suspicion,” and Myrna Okeke in “The Outlaws.”

Review

Our Rating: Mixed (One & Done)

Highlights

The Extended Prologue

The best part of “The Wife of Willesden” is when Alvita talks about her life. Be it, past husbands, her relationship with religion, or small bits about friends and family. Alvita’s point of view, accentuated by those who play her ex-husbands, sometimes for context, other times for comedy, help time fly by and, as promised, gives you some advice and insight into loving a woman like her.

Now, is this to say all her advice is gold? No. Some of it is very toxic, but the passion behind every word Clare Perkins utters is gold, and she has such a lock on you she could tell you she pisses gold, and you might believe her.

For when allowed to tell Alvita’s story, she has the persona of your favorite aunt. The one who was loving and raw but was one of the first to speak to you like you were mature enough to handle half of what they said. And for that, you love her, and anytime she gets loose and is on a roll, like Perkins as Alvita, you can’t take your eyes off her and have your ears tuned to every shift of her voice.

Criticism

The Tale of the Maroon Boy

Three-quarters of the way through Alvita telling her story, we’re told that was just the prologue, the warm-up for the actual story Alvita wanted to share. Sadly, the story she wanted to share is a bust.

Because the prologue is so funny, almost like a 90s-style comedian doing a play based on their life, and then you get a tale that has little to do with Alvita? It’s jarring, unwelcomed, and kills the momentum to the point of being ready to pack your things in hopes that the play will soon be over.

On The Fence

Feeling Like We Were Missing Some Details

Because this is Alvita’s story, and the prologue tries to keep things comical and cohesive, we don’t get all the details while we meet her best friend, aunt, niece, and husbands. We learn how she met one husband but not the others. Also, she doesn’t go in order, so you can learn each man’s entire story, or highs and lows.

Note, you get more than enough to know who is who, based on their look and personality, but sometimes they can feel like painted shells. Not empty, but like an egg you’d get in the supermarket, there is enough there to fill you up in the moment, but the potential wasn’t reached so they could truly be alive.

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Overall

The Extended Prologue - 86%
The Tale of the Maroon Boy - 64%
Feeling Like We Were Missing Some Details - 76%

75%

"The Wife of Willesden" overstays its welcome as it jumps from an immensely compelling story to a tale that feels largely unrelated and doesn't hold the value of what Alvita called "The Prologue."

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