Eight Women – Smock Alley – Review


Eight women have one man in common. They all have different relationships with him. He is their father, their husband, their brother, their employer and their lover. He is Marcel, a multi-millionaire and the patriarch of the family. When he is discovered dead with a dagger plunged in his back, it quickly becomes apparent that the murderer is still inside the house, but which of the women is the culprit?

This play was written by French playwright Robert Thomas in 1958. This new version of the play was adapted by director Jan Schneider and has taken the unusual approach of having all eight characters played by men. They are not in drag and appear on stage dressed as men in suits and shirts, just with female names. It’s a curious choice to move away from the female cast but certainly gives a new slant on a play that many of consider a classic of its genre, the comedy thriller.

The play has a number of set pieces, with the actors moving to the side of the stage to perform solo songs by artists such as Britney Spears (Hit me baby one more time) and Patti Smith (Because the night belongs to lovers). The vocal ability of the cast is mixed and a few struggle with the task set before them.

This is an ambitious production that aims high but doesn’t always hit the mark. It may have worked better if the comedic nature of the script was pushed to the fore. There are moments of high camp in the plot but the detective storyline over shadows them. There are many positives though, with good movement and a strong final sequence.

8 Women runs in Smock Alley until May 30th.

Written by Robert Thomas
Directed by Jan Schneider
Set Designed by Helena Tobin
Costume by Jenny Nolan
Music directed by Chris O’Sullivan
Produced by Mitzi D’ Alton
Cast: Emmet Byrne, Tim Casey, David Grant, Aidan Jordan, Ryan MacKenzie, Ben Harding, Aidan O’Rourke, Brendan Sheehan

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