Deeper dive: A closer look at 'The Constant Wife'

by John Moore | Apr 04, 2018

Chris Coleman The Constant Wife. Photo by Adams VisCom
Photo by Adams VisCom.

Note: In this daily series, we will take a deeper dive into the eight titles recently announced on the DCPA Theatre Company's 2018-19 season. Today: The Constant Wife

The Constant Wife

  • Written by: W. Somerset Maugham
  • Year: 1927
  • The Constant Wife 2005Director: Shelley Butler, who will first helm Human Error (May 18 in the Galleria Theater). In 2013, Butler directed the world premiere of Catherine Trieschmann's comedy The Most Deserving, which was later presented in New York.
  • Dates: Sept. 21-Oct. 21 (Opens Sept. 28)
  • Where: Space Theatre
  • Genre: Satire of manners
  • At a glance: As the intelligent, charming housewife of a successful and wealthy doctor, Constance Middleton would appear to have everything as she cheerfully plays her traditional role. But she knows far more than she’s willing to let on. This cheeky satire pokes holes in the expectations of relationships, fidelity and social roles that are just as relevant today as they were in the 1920s. The Constant Wife takes joy in the imperfections of life and applauds those who elude the strict confines of society to discover true happiness. 
  • Says Artistic Director Chris  Coleman: “I was knocked out the first time I read this play. It’s a hilariously witty, totally fresh, unbelievably modern look at marriage. It’s almost 100 years old, and it feels like it was written yesterday. Here you have this upper-class British family, and this very privileged woman finds out early on that her husband is having an affair with her best friend — and she's like, "Yeah ... so?" This woman learns how tackle the world on her own outside of any prescribed relationship. It’s delicious to watch her make those discoveries and forge her own economic future. I also think this is the kind of play that this company can do extraordinarily well.
  • The constancy of today: "This seems like the perfect play for the 'Me Too moment' of today," Coleman said, "because here you've got a wife who's has a total lack of sentiment on the subject of matrimony. She is the perfectly modern wife.
  • What the critics have said: "Maugham is concerned with the hypocrisy of the moral double standard imposed upon men and women, and recognizes, surely in advance of his time, that for a woman, the only important freedom is economic freedom. He is also willing, cynically perhaps, to castigate the modern wife of his period as, in the bitter words of his heroine: 'The prostitute who doesn't deliver the goods.' it is a perceptive enough attack on the upper‐middle-class English marriage of his age." — The New York Times' Clive Barnes in 1975.
Constant Wives On Broadway, 'The Constant Wife' has been played by, from left, Katharine Cornell (1951), Ethel Barrymore (1926), Ingrid Bergman (1975) and Kate Burton (2005).

  • About the author: Maugham was a wildly popular British novelist and short-story writer who was reportedly the highest-paid author in the world throughout the 1930s. He was praised for having a clear, unadorned style, cosmopolitan settings and a shrewd understanding of human nature. He is perhaps best remembered for his novels Of Human Bondage (1915) and The Razor’s Edge (1944), the latter the story of a young American war veteran’s quest for a satisfying way of life.
  • Fun facts: Variety called Maugham’s protagonist in The Constant Wife “a perverse protofeminist — and an antecedent to the women of “Desperate Housewives” and “Sex and the City” ... The Constant Wife has been staged on Broadway four times, most recently in 2005 starring Kate Burton (daughter of Richard) as Constance. (Lynn Redgrave played her mother, pictured above and right). In 1975, Ingrid Bergman played Constance, Katharine Cornell in 1951 and Ethel Barrymore originated the role in 1927. So no pressure, 2018 Constance, whoever you turn out to be.

TC-web-Season-Ann-800x30034(Artwork by  DCPA Senior Graphic Designer Kyle Malone.) 

2018-19 DCPA Theatre Company season at a glance:

  • Aug. 24-Sept. 30: Vietgone (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 7-Oct. 14: Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Oklahoma! (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Sept. 21-Oct. 21: The Constant Wife (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • Nov. 21-Dec. 24: A Christmas Carol (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 18-Feb. 24, 2019: Last Night and the Night Before (Ricketson Theatre) READ MORE
  • Jan. 25-Feb. 24, 2019: Anna Karenina (Stage Theatre) READ MORE
  • Feb. 8-March 10, 2019: The Whistleblower (Space Theatre) READ MORE
  • April 26-May 26, 2019: Sweat (Space Theatre) READ MORE

  • DCPA Theatre Company tickets and subscriptions:
    New and renewing subscribers have the first opportunity to reserve tickets. Subscription packages are now available online at or by calling 303-893-4100. Subscribers enjoy 30 percent off savings, free ticket exchanges, payment plans, priority offers to added attractions, discounted extra tickets, a dedicated VIP hotline, free events including talkbacks and receptions, and the best seats at the best prices, guaranteed. Single ticket on-sale date will be announced at a later time. BUY ONLINE

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    John Moore
    John Moore
    Award-winning arts journalist John Moore has recently taken a groundbreaking new position as the DCPA’s Senior Arts Journalist. With The Denver Post, he was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the US by American Theatre Magazine. He is the founder of the Denver Actors Fund, a nonprofit that raises money for local artists in medical need. John is a native of Arvada and attended Regis Jesuit High School and the University of Colorado at Boulder. Follow him on Twitter @moorejohn.

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