KATHERINE MACALISTER chats to Clare Plested about her new comedy The Perfect Wife – and hopes her husband doesn’t get any ideas.

So just what is it that constitutes the perfect wife, I ask the boys in the office.

Being permanently cheerful, letting me go down the pub when I want, good legs, rich, independently wealthy, surprising, willing to support me, someone who knows how to change a set of spark plugs, non-high maintenance, a mechanic, someone who knows a line-out from a scrum, someone who laughs at my crap jokes, doesn’t complain about her ankles, a good cook and someone who doesn’t nag were the printable suggestions.

“Why have you found someone?” one asked.

Simple creatures men. Not much call for a brain then ladies!

Welcome to the world of Clare Plested whose new comedy The Perfect Wife debuts at The Mill in Banbury next Thursday – and she and her comedy partner Adam Brown revel in the subject matter on offer.

In it she plays an unhappily married woman who decides the way to fix her marriage is to become the perfect wife.

She then becomes so convinced by its success, she goes round the country preaching to the unconverted with a Perfect Wife Roadshow.

So where did the idea come from?

“At university we read an American book called The Surrendered Wife by Laura Doyle which says the answer to a perfect marriage is to be at your husband’s beck and call and let them be the boss, 50s style.

“To surrender yourself on all levels. And the comic potential even then seemed immense,” Clare remembers.

“It raises your feminist heckles while having a ring of truth to it at the same time.”

But of course all is not what it seems.

The Perfect Wife manages to suck the audience in and then of course spits them out again at the end of the play.

“I don’t want to give too much away but at the beginning everyone is thinking how can we even listen to this,” Clare, 29, says.

“We have the wife fetching and carrying like a dog to test her spirit of obedience, sitting on the naughty step, we take it to extremes.

“And of course it’s tongue-in-cheek, but there are so many books like this is the US, that you take the audience on a journey and they go along with it. “So when things don’t pan out as you would expect, it’s fascinating seeing how the audience reacts because you dupe them.

“They end up feeling euphoric but slightly foolish and gullible.

“It’s the humour that makes it and luckily the audience thinks its hysterical, so we get away with it.”

So has it helped her own marriage?

“Oh none of us in Plested and Brown are married,” she laughs.

“But we have all been in long-term relationships where the same things crop up, or it’s things we’ve learned from our friends and family, who will be mortified when they see the play.

“But all we’re doing is taking the mundane things that wind us all up about our partners in everyday life and using them as a social experiment.”

As for her and Adam, they are old friends but nothing more, and yet, Clare says, sometimes they feel like an old married couple.

“We spend so much time together and I slept at the end of his bed on an airbed for a long time when we first launched the company because we were so broke.

“Adam snores terrible and picks his toenails,” she adds, howling with laughter.

“It’s funny how quickly you can slip into those roles though.”

The Perfect Wife is at The Mill in Banbury on Thursday, June 24. Call the box office on 01295 279002.

Sound familiar anyone?