Curtain Calls: ‘Woman in Mind’ a fun but complex play

British playwright Alan Ayckbourn has been called “the comic poet of middle class life” and that is certainly the case for his comedy “Woman in Mind,” which runs March 1-24 at Lafayette’s Town Hall Theatre.

Seen through the eyes of Susan, a middle-class English housewife, “Woman in Mind” takes place in a mere 48 hours. But, oh so much happens in that short time span. Trapped in a lackluster marriage with an unappreciative family, Susan accidentally trips over a rake and is knocked unconscious. When she awakes, she finds herself surrounded by her ideal fantasy family. As her real and imaginary worlds begin to collide, the lines between truth and fiction blur giving her fantasies a comical and slightly nightmarish life of their own.

According to Director Dennis Markam, the audience has as much fun as the performers trying to figure out what is real and what is fantasy. “Ayckbourn doesn’t really tell you where the line between reality and fantasy is,” Markam explains, noting that he and the actors made their own decisions during rehearsal but that the audience may decide something else.”

“I like pieces where you can engage with them on different levels,” he explains. “If you just want to enjoy the show for its darkly comic moments, fine. But, if you want to look for things that reflect in your own life or the world around us, you’ll find those as well.”

Actress Suzie Shepard plays Susan and notes that while Ayckbourn’s comedy has broad appeal, it will be especially meaningful to those whose main focus has been caretaking and homemaking.

“This show will be so familiar to partners of any gender, parents and grandparents,” explains Shepard. “There’s a sense of self-reflection, of leaving a legacy. The husband’s legacy is very concrete, but it’s more nebulous for the wife. She chose marriage rather than a career and now doesn’t feel she’s getting the recognition she deserves and that sends her down into her own rabbit hole.”

Markam adds that Susan is a very strong person who has deferred to her husband and son most of her life. “She is now done deferring,” he says.

“There’s also this wonderful pacing baked into the writing, and it’s set up so that everything that happens in the fantasy family is an echo of something that happened in reality. There are no easy answers in this play, but there are these wonderful little nuggets that really reward

Source:: East Bay – Entertainment


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