By: Alan Ayckbourn
Directed by: Robin Herford
Venue: Yvonne Arnaud Theatre
Date: Monday 11th June 2007
This is an early Ayckbourn, and I enjoyed being reminded of his early style. It hasn’t dated too badly, although mentioning emails and still using 70s style phones did seem a bit out of kilter.
The play is set in three bedrooms. Delia (Louise Jameson) and Ernest (Colin Baker) are heading out for an anniversary meal. Their son, Trevor (Ben Porter), is one of those walking disaster areas so pivotal in early Ayckbourn plays, and he’s married Susannah (Beth Cordingly), a good match in terms of an ability to cause chaos without really trying. They’re going through a bit of difficulty in their marriage, and the time they spend in the company of other couples may help them to resolve their problems, but doesn’t do much for the others.
There’s Jan (Hannah Yelland), one of Trevor’s previous girlfriends, of whom Delia is still very fond, and who seems to still have a bit of feeling left for Trevor, despite her reputation for common sense. She’s married to Nick (Timothy Watson), who’s stuck in bed with some painful injury to a motor muscle, and behaving very badly. It may be because of his injury, but I suspect it’s a bit more widespread than that. Jan leaves him for a short while to go to a house-warming at Kate (Natalie Cassidy) and Malcolm’s place. They’re relatively newly married, and still finding out about each other. Malcolm (James Midgley) has a habit of leaving various items in the bed – hairbrush, frying pan, that sort of thing. He also thinks he can do DIY, but can’t, though Trevor’s attempts to help certainly don’t improve things. Between Trevor and Susannah, nobody gets much sleep, despite all of the action being set in the bedrooms of Delia and Ernest, Nick and Jan, and Kate and Malcolm.
As usual, it took a while to get going, as all the characters and relationships had to be established first. I did like Delia’s line about the restaurant keeping the table for them as they were regulars – “we go there every year!” All the performances were very enjoyable. I possibly liked Nick best, though there wasn’t a lot in it. The humour is mainly of the embarrassing sort so I didn’t always feel comfortable with it, but by the end I was thoroughly enjoying it all.
© 2007 Sheila Evans at ilovetheatre.me