Cole-fired play has true grit

THE dark violent world of a Martina Cole novel is not one that immediately springs to mind as an entertaining evening in the theatre. The first adaptation of one of her best-selling books for the stage is so gritty it could have solved this winter s snow

THE dark violent world of a Martina Cole novel is not one that immediately springs to mind as an entertaining evening in the theatre.

The first adaptation of one of her best-selling books for the stage is so gritty it could have solved this winter's snow crisis.

Two Women centres around Sue Dalston and her East End upbringing filled with brutality and neglect.

Unloved by her mother, abused by her father and then by her unfaithful husband, Cathy Murphy plays the role of the beaten down wife to perfection.


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But much of this bleak tale of female solidarity is set in the prison cell she shares with middle class murderer Matilda Enderby (Laura Howard).

Flashbacks piece together how the downtrodden mother-of-four ended up putting a hammer in her husband Barry's (Marc Bannerman) skull.

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The play is not for the fainthearted with one particular rape scene shocking to see on the stage.

And the story is at times so depressing it is easy to switch off and lose interest.

But Patrick Prior has written a script generously peppered with dark humour to lighten the hard going storyline.

The twists and turns of the novel also work well live in a theatre, making it a must for Cole fans and an entertaining, if harrowing, slice of East End life for the rest of us.

Two Women is at Theatre Royal Stratford East until March 20.

For tickets, which range from �8-�22, call the box office on 020 8534 0310 or email tickets@stratfordeast.com.

- ELEANORE ROBINSON

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