** Do the time warp: it's like a 1970s TV sitcom on stage
There's nothing wrong with this production as such, it just seems like such a throwback compared to the Ayckbourn we're used to now.
Watching Loveday Ingram's production, I realised at last why for so long I had such a wrongly low opinion of Alan Ayckbourn, why I thought of him as nothing more than a boulevardier: it was because the first of his plays I ever saw in a theatre was Bedroom Farce, and first impressions are hard to overcome.
This tissue-thin tale of a husband-and-wife pair of misfits and how their difficulties wreak havoc on friends and family over one night and a morning has some of the master's structural exuberance, with a set requiring three different bedrooms on stage throughout. But the darkness and personal complexity that usually drives his dramas – the underside of the secure middle classes – exists only in brief serious hints or broad caricatures. Nothing disturbs the antiquated atmosphere: not the design and costuming, which are period camp; not the presence of 1970s television stalwarts Richard Briers and June Whitfield in the cast; not even the faux-Ronnie Hazlehurst music which tops and tails the action as if it were a sitcom episode. Jason Watkins and Jasper Britton are among the fine actors selling themselves short in this perplexingly pointless exercise.
Written for divento.com
Copyright © Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.
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