|Date||6th November 2012|
|Society||Irving Stage Company|
|Venue||Theatre Royal, Bury St Edmunds|
|Type of Production||Play|
Author: Julie Petrucci
The play’s title is somewhat of a misnomer as this is not a farce as such. Here "farce" relies on the comedy of character. Each actor takes his turn to invite the audience to laugh at his absurdity. The story centres round four married couples. Each, it emerges has problems. Malcolm and Kate are having a party and have invited, amongst others, Nick and Jan and Trevor and Susannah. Nick is bed-ridden with a strained back and, therefore, cannot attend, even though his wife Jan (and Trevor's ex) does. Meanwhile Trevor's parents are getting ready to celebrate their wedding anniversary with an annual trip to their favourite restaurant. On stage three bedrooms presented simultaneously belonging to three separate couples' homes with the action flowing in and out from one to the other during one hectic night. This is the challenge for any group putting on this well-loved Ayckbourn play. The three bedroom settings were well defined. The bedroom of upwardly-mobile Nick and Jan was well positioned on a raised area. This was clever designing as there is less frenetic action in this ‘bedroom’ so limited space was used to best advantage. Ernest and Delia’s room was suitably furnished; and Malcolm and Kate’s bedroom messily chaotic. Ernest and Delia John Lintin and Carolyn Child were a good pairing. We enjoyed a fine performance from Delia who made good use of the opportunity for business in and around the bedroom. Ernest gave us a very natural performance: here was an actor clearly at ease with his role. Steve Whitaker as Nick, confined to bed, was excellent. He had good timing and his delivery was spot on. Not an easy role when one is either in bed or face down on the bedroom floor but Mr Whitaker made it his own. Catherine Dale as Jan made much of her character as she dealt with Nick’s demands in a suitably unsympathetic and caustic manner. Malcolm and Kate, Gareth Isaacson and Lucy Alfred, preparing for their housewarming party had a good opening scene and worked well together. They were a very believable couple and I am sure many related to Malcolm’s problem with locking bar C; and full marks to Miss Alfred on her accomplishment of getting fully dressed under the duvet. Weaving in and out of the bedrooms are Trevor and Susannah’s marital disasters. Claire Lowe as the neurotic Susannah gave an admirable performance: and Tom Ogden gave us a suitably dithery Trevor. He had got the measure of his character well and I am sure I was not the only one who was glad not to live with these two! This play is a challenge all round not least for the lighting and sound technicians who unfortunately had a few gremlins running around on the opening night. However, the cast did not let any little hitches faze them. Director Grahame Radford can be pleased and proud of his cast. He did a splendid job with this play which has some of the best one-liners Ayckbourn has written, many of which were probably eagerly anticipated by those familiar with the play: including the collapse of the Malcolm’s dreadful bedside cabinet, all making for an enjoyable evening of theatre. Thank you for inviting me.