Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedroom Farce was a smash hit on London’s West End in the late 1970’s and – in typical Ayckbourn fashion – is a black comedy set in the domestic sphere. It follows four couples (Ernest and Delia, Nick and Jan, Malcolm and Kate and Trevor and Susannah) over the course of one late night. Each couple is interconnected (as parents, friends, former lovers, etc) and are seemingly all in moderately unsatisfactory and sexually stagnant marriages. Poppy Read-Pitt reviews.
Despite the slightly dire and depressing premise, Bedroom Farce is not a sad play. On the contrary, Ayckbourn approaches the topics in a light hearted way, with plenty of physical comedy and funny characters to make people forget the context of their respective hilarity.
Their accents and mannerisms were so believable that I found myself being all too viscerally reminded of certain family members
Although a classic West End hit from the 70’s may seem like a dull or arguably even unimaginative choice, this production will remind you why Ayckbourn’s work stays beloved. Universally relatable and consistently funny, Bedroom Farce doesn’t show its age. There are so many moments in this play that are comic gold, and the New Theatre’s production made sure to make good use of each one. Helped by the talent on the stage, Bedroom Farce produced an almost constant stream of laughter from its audience.
All of the actors were great fun to watch on stage, with each one holding their own in this highly energised production. Special mentions however must go to Adam Haffar and Kat Parry for their portrayal of Ernest and Delia. Their physical comedy was brilliantly natural for two young people playing elderly people, and their accents and mannerisms were so believable that I found myself being all too viscerally reminded of certain family members.
The windows and doors on set […] had been put together so well you could have thought they’d been lifted out of an established house
Similarly, a mention must go to Ollie Ennis who played Trevor. Undoubtably the most unpleasant character, Trevor is at the centre of many of the play’s conflicts, yet Ennis’ manner made the audience forget all about that judgement by the laughs he garnered throughout. In addition to this, Ennis is a fresher and this is his first play at the New Theatre, a great debut for someone so new. A final mention must go to Freya Davis, whose portrayal of Susannah as a comically highly strung woman had a human and relatable edge.
The physical comedy of the play was perfect, never overdone to the point of absurdism while still being distinctly funny. The same can be said for the cast’s accents – with a clear choice being made to keep the original characterisation of posh without straying too far into parody.
The set was great too, not too full that you felt it took away from the action on stage but nevertheless distinctive. Each couple (bar Trevor and Susannah) had their own bedrooms, which were decorated so as to further characterise them. A special mention must go to the windows and doors on set – which had been put together so well you could have thought they’d been lifted out of an established house.
Overall, the production is great. The actors absolutely smash it, and all involved should be particularly proud of the hilarious show they put on.
Featured image courtesy of Alex Watkin. Permission to use granted to Impact. No changes were made to this image.
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