Bedroom Farce

Date 17th March 2022
Society Henfield Theatre Company
Venue The Henfield Hall
Type of Production Farce
Director Anne Stern
Written By Alan Ayckbourn


Author: Anne Lawson

I received a warm welcome and kind hospitality from Production Manager Jane Jones and it was a pleasure to meet hard-working Director Anne Stern, who was at the helm steering the talented eight actors with the extra challenge of  a long wait to perform ‘Bedroom Farce’.

Another finely scripted play, written in the early 1970’s by Ayckbourn, involved four couples, three bedrooms and action spanning over just one long evening. Fast paced in both words and physical action, well timed door entries, much confusion, bed sharing, deceit, snatched kisses, differences but very funny indeed. Just what we needed after the company’s two year wait to get the production on stage.

The cast certainly ensured the smallish, but most appreciative audience, a much-deserved good laugh despite the underlying problematic subject matter. A mature couple Ernest and Delia are getting ready to dine at a favourite restaurant to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Their son Trevor and troubled daughter-in-law Susannah take their marital problems not only to Malcolm and Kate’s housewarming party, but to the other households causing much chaos. Absent from the ruined event is Nick who has taken to his bed with a bad back,  his wife Jan, previous girlfriend of Trevor is set on attending. The dinner was not really enjoyed, the party is a total disaster and after much turmoil between the couples it is quite possible Trevor and Susannah rebuild their relationship.

The noticeably wide stage was beautifully split into three bedrooms. For the older couple an elegant style with working window, working bedside lamps, two doors one leading to a strategic bathroom. At front  stage was a dressing table where Hazel Cawte proficiently applied her make up without the aid of a mirror! The second was an unfinished room, with door at the back – fabulous ‘70’s wallpaper and bed with colourful bedding, used for piling guests coats and the surprise present. later revealed with the do-it-yourself build piece of furniture, not quite as it should be and eventual collapse. The third bedroom was set side on, lovely large fan wall decoration above Nick and Jan’s bed and where Nick mainly nursed his back and, having fallen out, spent some time on the floor! Great design by Dave Smith with build by HTC Workshop. Set dressing and props were first class from Susie Shenston and Vanessa Tindall. Very good finds from wardrobe ladies Diane Fuell and Pat Tidey – loved the wigs and make up.

The key to farce is speed not only of script but action and both these aspects were well executed by each character, with great timing of both lighting and sound turning from one cameo to the next. Good partnership with Peter Ingledew as distinguished Ernest in dinner jacket, with Hazel Cawte - Gemma Jones look alike wife Delia delightful. I’ve gone right off pilchards now! Mandy Ainsworth played the somewhat unsympathetic Jan to John Pursglove a pain ridden Nick. Crazy young couple Malcolm and Kate namely Dale Shucksmith and Izzy Cryer with her wonderful facial expressions and turquoise eye shadow teamed well together and finally a lovely performance from neurotic reciting Susannah and self-doubting Trevor convincingly played by Nick Cryer and Emily Norman. Line perfect, slick and polished, with a simple neat bow from the pairs.  So many other tasks are undertaken and to those unseen thank you to for a most enjoyable visit.

A free, simple, colourful but explicit programme was produced. On a sad note, a collection was announced by Peter Ingledew from the stage to donate to the Red Cross efforts in assisting families of Ukraine.  Most thoughtful.