A Dependable Marriage, C Soco

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The Independent Culture

"A treacherous best friend, a loyal wife, a faithless husband... a comic exploration of the perverse affair between power and love." It sounded promising for one of those shows you go to having more or less stuck a pin in the Fringe brochure. But would Caroline Wood's A Dependable Marriage be just another soap opera, with stock situations and sentimentalised cliches?

As it turns out, Wood has delivered a cleverly contrived piece of writing, remarkably accomplished for a first play despite the somewhat amateurish production and embarrassing costumes. As Lucy, the loyal wife, Edwina Langley is beautifully understated. Her pretentious mother, strait-laced sister and flighty best friend are the most colourful roles, suggesting that Wood has yet to develop her male characterisations (though the vengeful, tweedy husband of Lucy's rival has the best line, apologising for not even taking his best golf club to swat the cheating pair). The patter is pure Joanna Trollope, the plot worthy of TV's wry My Family with a touch of Noël Coward's drawing-room comedy. Jimmy Johnson as Simon, Lucy's old flame, isn't nearly old enough to be an Admiral; given the context, her personality and the size of her suitcase, Lucy's departure should be for a weekend, not a month. But I look forward to more by this refreshing young writer.

C Soco, Chambers Street until 27 August (0845 260 1234)