Theatre review: I Keep A Woman in My Flat Chained To A Radiator

Maggie (Monica Forero) sits on the floor, folding an origami crane. Stephen (Alex Wells-King) bursts in, shedding clothes and panicking about his date that night.

Star rating: ****

Venue: ZOO (Venue 124)

Over the next 45 minutes, Maggie calms him down, bickers with him, trades jokes and pop culture references, builds up his confidence and generally helps him prepare for the momentous night ahead. For almost the entire running time, she’s chained to his radiator.

Remarkably, it doesn’t come up all that often. Obviously, Maggie’s movement is limited. At one point she complains about her restraints chafing; at another, there’s a brief reference to her and Stephen’s first meeting. By and large though, their situation, as far as Maggie and Stephen are concerned, is normal enough to disregard. When they cut vegetables together Stephen feels no fear in handing Maggie a knife, and she never comes close to using it on him.

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Forero and Wells-King perform their roles well. Stephen is all visible insecurity, subliminal threat and white male privilege.

At one point he declares, “I’m my own harshest critic” and is depressingly correct. Maggie is every woman who has ever felt forced to temper her speech or attitude for 
the sake of a man’s ego. The show’s major success is that it manages to be funny – hilariously so – while constantly (non-verbally) confronting the audience with Maggie’s imprisonment. Stephen’s assertion that the opposite of a bag for life is “bags for death” gets a big laugh. So does Maggie’s reassurance that Stephen has a handsome penis.

“Five stars,” she says. “From The Scotsman.” (We’re not so vain to pretend that line doesn’t change depending on who’s in.)

Call it Stockholm Syndrome. Call it an allegory for insidious patriarchal control. Call it a pop culture comedy riot with some darkness on the side. Call it anything you like, just go see the damn thing.

Until 29 August. Today 4pm.