Review: Just a Housewife, The Rabbit Hole

Contrary to what the title of her one woman show suggests Pippa Winslow is so much more than ‘just a housewife’. This sassy Californian with a mischievous glint in her eye, who toured with the Broadway production of Phantom of the Opera for many years, has a colourful dating history and a penchant for selecting just the right song from the musical theatre back catalogue to illustrate pivotal events from her life.

This semi-autobiographical evening of memoir and songs took place in the epitome of a fringe venue, a tiny theatre called the Rabbit Hole, tucked away in the cellar of the Duke of Hamilton pub. Many would have been phased by performing in a dimly lit space to an audience that was sadly thin on the ground, but instead Pippa delivered a show that was intimate yet oozed gumption. It is worthy of a more impressive venue and certainly deserving to be seen by a larger audience. Skilful song choice coupled with Pippa’s frank and sincere delivery made for a highly entertaining and engaging performance.

Staged simply with just the bare black walls, a stool to perch on and Andrew Hopkins tinkling the ivories, beneath the harsh spotlight Pippa is extremely exposed from the start. The opening number ‘I Want It All’ may well be from the musical Baby, but it’s lyrics read like the soundtrack to Mrs Winslow’s life. For instance the chorus of “I want adventure, love, career, kids large and small I want it all” the desire to try and achieve everything all at once rings extremely true to her own personal narrative. She recounts honestly that even when her acting career was at its peak, all she truly longed for was to settle down and have children. However, that picturesque domesticity came at the price of her career, as in order to raise her children she had to sacrifice her own dreams and become a housewife. The reoccurring theme in Just a Housewife is Pippa’s struggle to come to terms and embrace this new phase in her life. Yes, Pippa is a superb singer, but what truly sets this show apart from the countless other evenings with songs and anecdotes currently being performed, is that Pippa’s tales are honest and genuine, speaking about a subject matter that many could undoubtedly relate to.

What really struck me about Just a Housewife was how well-crafted it was, it was apparent from the start that each song and anecdote had been thoughtfully chosen. I also appreciated the way in which Pippa and her musical director and pianist Andrew Hopkins had delved beyond the clichéd and over-performed repertoire, to uncover some gems that I for one had never heard before. Such as ‘Shattered Illusions’ from Fascinating Aida, and the highly comical ‘Los Pinguinos’, a South American love story about two penguins which comically involved Pippa making penguin noises and sound effects as part of the rendition. Pippa has a fine sense of comic timing, and was perhaps most at ease when performing character pieces, such as the frazzled runaway bride in ‘Getting Married Today’ from the little-performed musical, Company.

In short, Pippa dazzled the audience from start to finish transforming what was formerly a dark and dingy beer cellar into a glistening performance space fit for a Broadway starlet. 

Just a Housewife is playing at The Rabbit Hole until July 12, for tickets and more information see the Just A Housewife website.