BEDROOM FARCE
Aldwych Theatre, London WC2
Opened 8 April, 2002

** 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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