TAKING STEPS To 15 October.


by Alan Ayckbourn.

Clwyd Theatre Cymru (Emlyn Williams Theatre) To 15 October 2011.
Mon-Sat 7.45pm Mat Sat 2.45pm.
Audio-described 13 Oct.
Captioned 8 Oct 2.45pm.
Post-show Discussion 13 Oct.
Runs 2hr 25min One interval.

TICKETS: 0845 330 3565.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 16 April.

Some laughs and a lot of effort in a pleasant revival.
Rightly, director Lori Davies has turned Clwyd Theatr Cymru’s smaller performing space into the round for her revival of Alan Ayckbourn’s 1979 farcical comedy. Eighteen years later, Ayckbourn wrote Things We Do for Love, set on three storeys of a house, as a play defiantly impossible to stage in the round (he hasn’t often done that). Here he manages to set his action on three storeys but have it performed on one level.

Admittedly that means miming steps around two sides of the stage; and admittedly the top, attic storey is less used than the two below it, but the action’s still cleverly worked-out, with the impact of movement above visible one level down. And, as always with Ayckbourn, the theatrical contrivances never seem absurd, and never dent the reality of his characters.

In response they need a mix of comic technique and believable characterisation. There’s a measure of both in this revival, but also a tendency among some cast members to move towards the stock of mannerisms which was part of earlier decades’ less successful productions of the plays.

Sion Pritchard almost gets away with it as the hapless, tongue-tied legal man, the low-grade substitute sent by wealthy Roland’s solicitors to handle the purchase of a somewhat dilapidated old house. That’s because his unassertive character has so much to do responding nervously to others.

Nerves run through these characters, none of them showing much ability to take steps in any positive way, most likely to be frightened by bumps or the presence of others. Catrin Aaron has the indecision of Roland’s wife, unsure whether she should stay or go, but little sense of being a dancer, while sometimes overdoing the vocal shaping of lines.

Michael Geary is all technical bluster and concern as her brother; Alex Parry also blusters as a desperate vendor, while Charlotte Gray’s Kitty is one-dimensionally nerve-ridden in a piece that has at least two-dimensional characters. It’s left to Robert Blythe as the chain-drinking confident adapter of words Roland to provide comedy built round a character rather than mannerisms in a pleasant, though hardly triumphant, revival.

Elizabeth: Catrin Aaron.
Mark: Michael Geary.
Tristram: Sion Pritchard.
Roland: Robert Blythe.
Leslie: Alex Parry.
Kitty: Charlotte Gray.

Director: Lora Davies.
Designer: Mark Bailey.
Lighting: Nick Beadle.
Sound: Matthew Williams.

2011-10-03 17:12:05

ReviewsGate Copyright Protection