I Am My Own Wife

Adelaide Fringe. Cate Mayer. The Bakehouse Theatre. 21 Feb 2013

Unlike many Fringe offerings dreamed up over the last year by the performer, this diamond in the rough has a solid pedigree.  Playwright Doug Wright won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama for this show, and amongst a swag of other gongs and nominations, I Am My Own Wife took the Tony for Best Play.

This is a smartly produced show directed and performed by professionals.  American writer Doug Wright is researching a new work and takes us into a dusty old home cum museum where we meet its custodian, Frauline Charlotte von Mahlsdorf.  Charlotte is no ordinary woman - in fact she is not a woman at all.  Doug, with the help of his loud-mouthed American pal and a plethora of other characters reveal the sweet old transvestite to be a rather dodgy character who survived the Nazis and the Communists by running various clandestine enterprises from the aforementioned mansion in East Berlin.  The ambiguity surrounding Charlotte will keep you guessing for hours after the show.

Actor Charles Mayer does this all by himself onstage, deftly and swiftly changing persona, sometimes in quite startling and surprising ways.  He is a master of instantaneous facial and vocal disguise.  Mayer was helped to look sharp by fellow Guildford School-trained Craig Behenna’s crisp and inventive direction.  Joanna Czutkowna (costume design) gave Charlotte a great froc and somebody unmentioned in the program designed a most suitable set.

This is a hit of the fringe – highly recommended.  Bravo!

David Grybowski

When: 21 Feb to 2 Mar
Where: The Bakehouse Theatre
Bookings: adelaidefringe.com.au