After a year, W. Somerset Maugham"s enduring Constant Wife is back on stage in Southern California. As an Old Globe staging argued last year, Maugham"s literary powers were in full-enough flower in 1926 that this message comedy rings true 80 years later on. What might have actually been dismissed once it premiered as a prescription for infidelity can currently be seen as a primer on exactly how best to incertain a mutual marriage yoke.

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A script this well crafted must occupational through any kind of actors capable of continuing to be out of the story"s way. However, the cast director Art Manke has assembled at the Pasadena Playhome via June 10 makes this a particularly good night for Mr. Maugham. Only an imposing and also oddly garish set, which will be addressed, undressed and also redressed later on, earns the manufacturing any type of demerits.

Chief among the acting assets is Megan Gallagher as Constance, the titular spouse. Before Ms. Gallagher"s first entrance, Mr. Maugham prepares us for a pitiable womale that is unmindful that her husband also is cheating with her finest frifinish. From her gait to her gaze Ms. Gallagher conveniently dispels such notions and develops Constance as a research in steadiness – a woguy unlikely to be victimized. Ethel Barrymore created this character on Broadway and also enjoyed a 300-performance run. Mr. Maugham is quoted as saying her performance was the best he had checked out in any play he had created. She collection the bar high, yet Ms. Gallagher serves the tradition well. Here, Constance looks to be comfortable through early on middle age, dressing and coiffing without need to deceive, yet preserving a beauty that will certainly reward the constancy of still-smitten Bernard Kersal (Kaleo Griffith), that last observed her 15 years prior to, adhering to her rejection of his marriage proposal.

Mr. Maugham provides mixed signals regarding whether or not Constance is able to leave her husband John (Stephen Caffrey), or even wants to. When another frifinish (Ann Marie Lee) supplies the opportunity for her to acquire out of the home and also enter business, she confesses she is happy at residence. Is it a situation of the emptiness she knows being preferable to the one she doesn"t? Ms. Gallagher"s performance seems to task a woman that has lived a life of her picking.

She made a decision John over Bernard bereason he seemed the less devoted. After an initial 5 years of passionate love, theirs eased into the love between devoted friends. When John"s affair through Marie Louise (Libby West) is disclosed, Constance reveals she knew about it yet observed no percentage in exposing it and also risking divorce. "I never understood why a woman have to offer up her residence, a considerable part of her earnings and having actually a male roughly the home to take treatment of all the tiresome chores."

But the extramarital outing occurs in the presence of the still-obsessed Kersal – who Mr. Griffith gives a winning blend of matinee idol looks and also mid-level knowledge. In her mind, John"s philandering and also the public humiliation it lugged has actually earned Constance a Free Affair Coupon. With the debonair Kersal at the ready she sets in movement a arrangement to obtain financial equality, sample passion one last time, and also afford John the bitter taste of the cuckold"s medicine.

A huge gilded birdcage, via its own special, supports the production"s metaphor of continuous confinement. So, too, does the floor-to-ceiling grid of upstage windows. Long diaphanous drapes of focus-yanking blue laze versus those windows, and also some ugly, pedestal-borne sculpture, better pressure the collection and also actors in the direction of the apron. The company"s downphase confinement will be defined in the play"s last scene. Until then, our attention is drawn to the drapes, a garish chandelier, and also this odd wevery one of sitting room home windows. (It"s especially ironic that once a collection style is actually attributed to a character on stage – and also a character, Constance, whose self-reliance will be dependent on her decorating – it looks so tacky.)

Of the rest of the actors, Mr. Caffrey, a favorite for his current rotate in SCR"s Bach at Leipzig, creates a blustery Dr. John, a little of a blowhard beneath a constantly knitted brow. West earns her laughs as Constance"s conscienceless pal. Monette Magrath keeps younger sister Martha animated, if probably as well young. John-David Keller, Andrew Borba, and Carolyn Seymour round out the cast.

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In a beautiful directorial coda that reflects Constance in Italy (and defines the home windows and the crowded stage), Mr. Manke sets Constance free. It"s a fine, hard-won stage moment arguing that liberty is its own reward. But, the truth that she is heading ago right into a various type of marriage appears to make this lovely thrive a bit next to the suggest. The triumph to relish is not John"s defeat, yet in forcing him to accept her as his true equal. That last face off, which typically signals lights out, must be simply desserts sufficient.