by Alan Ayckbourn.
Theatre by the Lake Lakeside CA12 5DJ In rep to 7 November 2012.
Runs 2hr 30min One interval.
TICKETS: 017687 74411.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 25 August.
Period piece grows with age.
Everyone’s out partying. Except for Nick, stuck at home in bed with a bad back. Though when Jan arrives home he’s lying on the floor, so she has to lift her dress and hoist him. The contrast between the elegant outfit and its rucked-up state symbolises the distance between social image and realities back home.
The way to happiness is not to bother. Party-givers Malcolm and Kate may have the wallpaper part stripped-off, but in their practical-joking life they’re happier than anyone else – until Kate starts thinking about things.
At the opposite end are Trevor and Susannah, nervous wrecks through self-obsession and a pair descended from the Conquests’ Norman Alan Ayckbourn had created a couple of years before this 1975 comedy. As with Norman, their concerns lead to mayhem for others – including Trevor’s parents Ernest and Delia whose already disappointing night is further ruined by the younger pair.
Trevor and Susannah are not given a room of their own; discontented, they wander through others’ lives. Designer Martin Johns raises the parental bedroom behind the two occupied by the younger married adults. It’s practical, and helps establish the long-married pair in their stiff, formal way, rubbing along together while accepting the irritations life brings.
Stephen Aintree, excellent in Keswick’s Dry Rot, employs something of the farce’s technique as Ernest, facial flickers comically suggesting irritation as he’s dispossessed of bed and bedroom by Maggie Tagney’s Delia, who creates comedy more purely through Ayckbourn’s well-characterised dialogue.
Jessica Ellis graduates the introduction of a serious note into the warm-hearted Kate’s hitherto happy life with Malcolm, whom George Banks plays with increasing comic fury at life’s major tragedy – Trevor and Susannah ruining his party.
Zöe Mills’ Jan has a brisk purpose needed with Adrian Metcalfe’s self-pitying Nick. It’s the troublesome twosome who have the most challenging roles, especially Trevor. His self-obsession is hard to pull-off (Norman’s the toughest part in the Conquests), though Louise Yates and Chris Hannon show the respective neuroses and blinkered quality in Stefan Escreet’s revival of a period piece that will doubtless have people laughing in the Lakes throughout autumn.
Ernest: Stephen Aintree.
Malcolm: George Banks.
Kate: Jessica Ellis.
Trevor: Chris Hannon.
Nick: Adrian Metcalfe.
Jan: Zöe Mills.
Delia: Maggie Tagney.
Susannah: Louise Yates.
Director: Stefan Escreet.
Designer/Costume: Martin Johns.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Matt Hall.
Fight director: Peter Maqueen.