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How to be an Other Woman is based on Lorrie Moore’s collection of stories, Self-Help. The talented Natalie Abrahami adapted and directed this story for its World Premiere at the Gate Theatre in Notting Hill. I’d never been to this theatre before, despite spending a lot of my time in the area. The Gate is cute and cutting-edge cool. How To Be An Other Woman could be described the same and suited the venue well.
As we sat down the atmosphere was sexily chilled out. Girls wandered across the stage, the audience muttered excitedly among themselves and the sweet smell of menthol stage cigarettes wafted through the small theatre. It was slightly Sex and the City-esque.
The play itself is slick, and delightfully interpreted for the stage. Recurring motifs pepper the narrative, and are used cleverly throughout, the most obvious of which are a conspicuous trench coat and high-heeled shoes. Each girl has a turn at being the “mistress” (and wearing the trench) while the other instructs her as to how such a character should act and react. It was a weird coincidence that my companion had, just a few days earlier, been given a similar coat for her birthday.
Of the four women I was most drawn to watch Faye Castelow. Her chirpy character acting is full of energy and endeared her to me. My friend was captivated by Ony Uhiara who, she told me, stole the show recently in the Young Vic’s Eurydice.
Abrahami cast four women and no man, leaving the male part to be alternately taken by each actress. My theatre-expert best friend found this particularly intriguing and afterwards explained her interpretation of this casting decision – that it proposes the empowering of women. And yet throughout the women are similar to little girls playing in their bedroom, dressing up and giggling.
This play is dangerously moreish, perhaps like an affair… And at only an hour long, it ended too soon for me.
How to be an Other Woman is at the Gate Theatre until 2 October, 2010.