Thurs 25th February - Sat 27th February & Tues 1st March - Sat 5th March 1988
Directed by Ingrid Corrigan
Ernest and Delia eat pilchards in theirs, Nick is incapacitated in his and Malcolm and Kate hide shoes in theirs. What do you do in your bed? In three separate bedrooms, four couples sort out their marital relationships during one hectic night.
The play takes place in three bedrooms during one night and the subsequent morning. The eldest couple, Delia and Ernest, are getting ready to go out for a meal to celebrate their wedding anniversary; Malcolm and Kate, the youngest, are about to host a housewarming party, to which the other two couples; Jan and Nick and Susannah and Trevor, have been invited. At the last minute Nick hurts his back and is unable to go.
Matters are complicated by the fact that of the two visiting couples, Jan is Trevor's ex. After Susannah and Trevor have a blazing row, Susannah finds Trevor and Jan kissing. Susannah leaves the party and runs to Delia and Ernest (Trevor's parents). She ends up sharing Delia's bed, while Ernest is forced to sleep in the spare room. Meanwhile Trevor is offered a bed in a Kate's spare room, but decides to go and "straighten things out" with Nick and Jan, leaving Kate waiting up for him. Eventually Trevor and Susannah seem to be reconciled, but at the end of the play the audience might doubt whether this state of affairs will last.
Ayckbourn's clever uses of time and space makes this a very intricate and sophisticated comedy while also portraying the deteriorating and rebuilding of relationships among young couples. This play explores the differences in relationships between the younger and older generations while capitalising on certain unlikely issues that may strain the relationships even further.
This play was staged at Havant Arts Centre, East Street Havant - Bench Theatre's home since 1977.
|Stage Manager||Karen Bickers|
|Lighting||Jacquie Penrose, Graham Scott |
|Poster Design||Pete Woodward|
|Set Construction||Pete Codd|
|Front of House||Robbie Cattermole|
This play has its moments of near farce and yet still contains elements of the claustrophobic - maybe because it's all in bedrooms. It is also the first time I've made use, to quite such an extent, of the cross-cut device. Jumping the action from bedroom to bedroom gives the play an added rhythm over and above what the dialogue normally provides. Again, I've allowed the characters to progress, develop and resolve very much in their own way. Perhaps none of them finds instant happiness or sudden great self-insight. But at least they retain the dignity of resolving their own destinies.
My own feelings is that 'Bedroom Farce' (one of his very best) is actually just as 'serious' as Ayckbourn's doomier plays. It carries an audience along on an almost unending crest of laughter; but that laughter is anything but mindless. Ayckbourn sets up a brilliantly comic device, lets his imagination take over and allows the ideas to spring out of exact observation of human behaviour.He reminds us all the time that a play is an artifact, a toy, a construct; but that, at its best, it can also illuminate the human condition.
Michael Billington, from his biography of Ayckbourn
Cramming three double bedrooms onto the stage of The Old Town Hall, Havant, is no mean feat in itself; but that was just the first in an excellent production of 'Bedroom Farce' by the Bench Theatre.
The play explores one hectic night in the lives of four couples, and the tangled network of their relationships. But don't thing that it is a heavy philosophical tract - Ayckbourn's dialogue has a distinct thread of poignancy but it is primarily comedy, and was admirably brought to life by The Bench. We focus on each of the bedrooms in turn - a highly diverting dramatic device, and skillfully lit.
Jane Hemsley-Brown's sensible and stuck-in-her-ways Delia gained top comic marks, very closely followed by her "husband" Ernest (David Penrose), Kate (Bernadette Russell) and Nick (Pete Holding), who managed a tremendous presence while acting his entire role from his bed. Perhaps the wild-eyed whimpering Susannah (Sally Stidever) could have pitched her strife at a slightly lower level, or varies it a little - I found it hard to sympathize with her at all; it was a difficult job however to maintain such a character with little dialogue.
This is a well-produced and highly amusing play and well worth a visit. It runs until Saturday.
The News, 26th February 1988