Preview: I Am My Own Wife, Duke of York's Theatre, London

A tightrope walk on the wild side
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The Independent Culture

Jefferson Mays plays Charlotte and, as if the complex duality within her character were not enough of a challenge, he also plays the other 37 characters in the play, too - people encountered by Charlotte during her turbulent life.

Written by Doug Wright (author of Quills) and directed by Moisés Kaufman, I Am My Own Wife has won a Pulitzer Prize and numerous other American awards. David Richenthal, the producer who has just completed a successful run of Death of a Salesman in the West End, believes that London audiences will warm to Charlotte just as Broadway audiences did: "Plays work because they break the heart. This play does that by connecting us to a character who is immensely sympathetic."

A close friend of the late playwright Arthur Miller (who described Richenthal's Death of a Salesman as the definitive production of his play), Richenthal draws the following comparison between the two: "Audience members identify with the character of Charlotte as much as young men and older men identify either with Biff Loman or Willy Loman."

Jefferson Mays has been lauded for his virtuoso and comic approach. As Richenthal says: "The key of great acting is listening and reacting - that's particularly hard to do when you're the only actor on stage. Somehow, [Mays] manages to convey that each character is intently listening to the other."

Tonight to 4 February (0870 060 6623)