REVIEW: BEDROOM FARCE (Theatro Technis) ★★★★★
This is true Ayckbourn theatrical farce. Full of misunderstandings, extreme characters and bedrooms. It takes place over one night of mayhem and the following morning of reflection.
Marital disharmony, a bad back, pilchards on toast in bed and collapsing flat packed furniture are the stories sub-plots. Told with great humour and style and yes, with affection.
Three bedrooms share the stage throughout the show. Each is lit in turn and the other two left in darkness, which makes for slick, seamless scene changes.
Ernest and Delia are Trevor’s parents and are in their sixties and comfortably upper class. Delia is the boss in their marriage and Ernest is a bit of a ditherer who just wants a quiet life. They fit together beautifully. They are the parents who try to steady the others couples, anchors in a stormy sea.
Malcolm, played by Martin Shaw, is your steady as a rock, practical, enthusiastic good natured nerd and Kate played by the lovely Harriet Snell is his loving wife. In one thread of the story Malcolm has bought Kate a present of a build it your self, flat pack shelf unit. He is sweet but his attempts at romantic gestures are a little heavy handed as are his attempts at shelf unit construction.
Malcolm and Kate are having a party but will wish they hadn’t. The dreaded Susannah, perfectly interpreted by a very talented Rachel Bothamley, has turned up uninvited.
Trevor (played by Richard Brent) and Susannah are newly separated. They are out for the night while everyone else wishes they’d stayed at home. Susannah is a drama queen extraordinaire while trouble follows Trevor like a bloodhound on the scent. He wreaks havoc wherever he goes and is a self obsessed jerk.
Nick, played to perfection by Ryan Lee, is having to stay in due to his bad back and is making the most of his temporary infirmity. His wife, Jan, played by the excellent Harriet Hahn, feels that she is obliged to go to the party but she would probably have been better off staying in with Nick. It seems that the lovely, caring Jan used to be the troublesome Trevor’s girlfriend, so no good was going to come of the situation.
Never have four more mismatched couples shared a stage.
Although Ayckbourn uses hints of female homosexuality, this doesn’t seem to have a huge part in this play as a whole. In fact no sooner had Susannah mentioned her sapphic feelings, than they are immediately forgotten never to arise again. Pity really. Perhaps, on reflection, the schism caused by her bisexual nature could have been part cause of her somewhat bizarre behaviour. Then again maybe I am overthinking things.
Bedroom Farce is a comedy that contains an absolute plethora of intertwined domestic events. It is a sophisticated comedy portraying the deteriorating and rebuilding of relationships among young couples and compares the differences in relationships between the younger and older generations.
This Alan Ayckbourn revival from the 1970s is excellent. Its smoothness and pace could serve as a perfect example to modern day writers on what can be achieved.
Veteran actors Anne Connell and Jonathan Norris lead the line brilliantly as Delia and Ernest. They are totally believable and at the same time warm and funny.
The production by The Tower Theatre Company is perfectly understated, just as Ayckbourn would have envisioned it back in 1975 when it was written. It is however fast paced with brilliant humour coming thick and fast. I think that, if he has seen it, Sir Alan, now 78 years old, probably approves.
Reviewed by Graham Archer
BEDROOM FARCE plays at Theatro Technis until 11 February 2017