The World & his Wife tells the story of Mike and Christine Mann, possibly the least happily married couple in Christendom.
Christine Mann is living a dog's life. Ordered about, verbally and often physically abused by her husband Mike, the play begins on the day in which Christine reaches the end of her tether. Mike begins the day by telling her that he never loved her, that she was merely a make-do until something better came along, and that he hates her for loving him. Christine tries to confide her woes to her only friend, a Church of England vicar - The Reverend Dick Woodger - but he has problems of his own, living as he does a double life of respectable Church of England vicaring and illicit promiscuous homosexuality.
Christine's miseries are increased yet more when a police detective, the sinister Inspector Ness, arrives. He is investigating a number of murderous attacks on young women committed by a local serial killer - The Scissors Freak - and it seems that Mike is a leading suspect. Ness appals Christine by describing the Freak's killings to her in lurid and gory detail, and she is left reeling by the thought that the man she shares her bed with is not only a brute but a psychopath.
In her desperation, she contacts a long-lost school friend Melissa, little realising that in the intervening years Melissa has dedicated her life to a particularly virulent and radical form of radical lesbian feminism. One look at Christine's situation and Melissa announces that there is only one solution to the problem of Christine's marriage - the revolutionary overthrow of her oppressor and the institution of a new state of being.
The World and his Wife is the darkest of black comedies, a roller-coaster of comic violence, satirical extremism and mocked human relationships. Sprawling comic characters mock contemporary archetypes, and its microcosmic situation contains within it a vision of the revolutionary cycles of human history. Perhaps Mike and Christine Mann truly are The World and his Wife…