Bedroom Farce, by Alan Ayckbourn, was directed by Sharren Taylor and was performed at The Edward Alleyn Theatre, Dulwich College, from 25th to 28th October 2017.
ERNEST - Roger Orr
DELIA - Sue Grindlay
JAN - Chloe Karpinskyj
NICK - Andrew Cunningham
KATE - Lydia Dickie
MALCOLM - Tim Divine
TREVOR - Pete Bowers
SUSANNAH - Rachael Crowther
Stage Manager - Gill Daly
Assisted by - Emily Lamm
Production Administration - Jan Rae
Set & Poster Design - Michael Marsden
Costume - Philippa Watts
Hair & make-up - Denise Biffin
Lighting - Jan Rae
Prompt - Katrina Rublowsky
Front of House Manager - Anne-Lise Vassoille
Assisted by - Members of the Society
Box Office - Eleanor Orr
Assistant to Director - Kate Lipsidge
Publicity - Sharren Taylor & Mike Stirling
Review by Bill Bailey
We know Alan Ayckbourn as an acute observer of middle class mores and in particular their marriages and relationships. He is often hilariously funny, sometimes rather darker as he analyses and even deconstructs their behaviour. Bedroom Farce is in the same genre as his other plays rather than in the tradition of Brian Rix farces or the French farces of Georges Feydeau where sex might be said to be more centre stage and Sharren Taylor, in her debut as a director, put together a very suitable cast who played well as an ensemble.
Lack of empathy and understanding are at the centre of the problems within the relationships of the four couples and also in how they each relate to the other couples. Ernest and Delia are the parents of Trevor who with his partner, Susannah, cause mayhem and destruction through the course of one night affecting the other couples in the play. Ernest and Delia seem contented companions but Ernest is somewhat detached from family issues, having barely spoken to their son throughout his childhood and adolescence. Roger Orr was suitably in a world of his own, anxious about damp penetration but largely oblivious of the emotional crises swirling around him. He loses his place in the marital bed to Susannah and is banished to the bathroom while Delia comforts the overwrought Susannah. Sue Grindley gave a beautifully judged performance as Delia, looking and sounding perfect in the part.
Kate and Malcolm are giving a house warming party to which they have invited Trevor and Susannah and also Jan, a former girlfriend of Trevor, and her new partner, Nick. Nick has hurt his back and is confined to bed and spends the whole play in a state of self-pity. He is unable to go to the party so Jan goes on her own which in turn leads to a brief rekindling of her relationship with Trevor at least in the form of a passionate kiss leading to further chaotic consequences.
Lydia Dickie, who extraordinarily played the same part of Kate in the Dulwich Players production of the same play 30 years ago, gave a fine comic performance. Her facial expressions while confined naked in bed while Trevor and Malcolm conduct a lengthy and earnest conversation in the bedroom were a joy to behold. Tim Devine who was very well cast as her decent if rather unimaginative husband, spends most of the play trying unsuccessfully to assemble a flat pack table as a 'surprise' for Kate. He only really loses his cool when Trevor and Susannah' behaviour cause an early mass exodus of their guests.
Andrew Cunningham was entirely convincing as the bedridden, complaining partner of Jan. I thought Chloe Karpinskyj was absolutely right as Jan who seemed to bring a note of sanity and normality amid the mounting chaos despite her brief straying with Trevor.
Pete Bowers as Trevor conveyed the right mixture of bonhomie and total insensitivity to others. Susannah played by Rachael Crowther was excellent in her emotional breakdown following yet another argument and fight with Trevor. A well staged production which perhaps needed in the first half a bit more pace and energy, but post-interval the energy levels lifted and it flowed beautifully.
All in all this was a very enjoyable and entertaining evening. Well done, Sharren!