It might be the 1920s but Constance Middleton has her own views of marriage, fidelity and independence.
In “The Constant Wife” — a play on words with the main character’s name — Constance takes things into her own hands when she learns of her husband’s affair. The show opens Friday night at Theatre Macon.
“In a nutshell, the play is about a lovely, smart, well-bred, sophisticated woman who discovers her husband of 15-some years is cheating on her with her best friend,” said Jim Crisp, artistic director for the theater. “Instead of getting angry, she gets even. And that is the crux of the play and it’s wonderful watching that unfold. Her solution is breathtakingly modern.”
The play was written by Somerset Maugham, who wrote a number of plays, short stories and novels but is probably best known for his book “Of Human Bondage.”
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“He chronicled the lives of the well-to-do knowingly and lovingly, but also with a clear eye as to who they were and didn’t shrink from exposing their faults and foibles,” Crisp said.
Crisp said he’d had his eye on the play for a few years.
“We were able to cast it extremely well,” he said. “As soon as we got into rehearsals and in the first read through, I knew I’d made the right decision. I knew I’d chosen the right play and I’d chosen the perfect cast and that it was going to be terrific.”
The cast of eight all are veterans of numerous productions. Liane Treiman is playing the title role of Constance.
“It’s got five delicious women’s roles and I’m always looking for plays with multiple, good, well-written, substantial multiple women’s roles and this play has got that,” Crisp said.
He said the play has been compared in tone and style to “Downton Abbey,” the popular PBS show that focused on an aristocratic family in a time period that overlaps with “Constant.”
“It’s about the same class of people and with very similar issues in their lives,” Crisp said. “It’s from that era when it was wonderful to be well-educated, well-bred and wealthy and yet lives were not perfect — they were lived frequently on the surface. There was a veneer to these lives — a very carefully manufactured veneer that was a lot of artifice.”
The three-act play takes place in a drawing room — a staple of live theater for decades.
“It’s not a raucous comedy although it is definitely a comedy. It is a chuckle, smile, raise-your-eyebrows comedy,” Crisp said.
He said the set, costumes and wigs will transport the audience to another time, and it’s the first time the show has played in Middle Georgia.
“It’s perfect for February. We are coming out of the doldrums of winter and the terrible darkness and divisiveness of this recent election,” Crisp said. “This play is a perfect anecdote to all of it. It is a breath of fresh air. … These are characters and people you definitely want to spend an evening with.”