Woman In A Dressing Gown - Altrincham Little Theatr

AMY Preston is a saint, married to a man who acts like a big kid most of the time and has an infuriating and hugely inflated sense of self importance.

She deserves a cupboard full of medals, not jut the one, and yet she chooses to stand by her man. Maybe I'm making the mistake of viewing this protracted play through 21st century eyes. It was first performed in 1963 and we now live in more equal if not exactly utopian times.

But Jim Preston is still a pain.

Ted Willis's piece about marital strife shows its age, you feel, while watching it, like you're in another world. Sympathetic character are at a premium with the exception of the delightfully disorganised Amy (Kathryn Fennell) who escapes domestic purgatory by immersing herself in music and dreaming of a big money win. There's a very funny scene involving Amy, her good pal Hilda (Jane Newman), with both actors seizing with both hands the chance to shine.

Ian Butterfield gives a strong and solid performance as Jim, or Jimbo, as Amy calls him. But his character is never totally believable, the fault of the writing, not his.

Woman In A Dressing Gown is a production by Michael Russell, a director whose work has consistently impressed me. Which left mewondering what he and a cast with talent in abundance could have done with a better play, rather than one that lacks both spark and pace.

* Until January 28. The box office is on 0161 928 1113. Star rating - ***