Relatively Speaking, Theatre Royal, Bath, Review

You don’t need a cast of thousands to hold your interest in a play when the author is Alan Ayckbourn and the compact cast of four are Liza Goddard, Steven Pacey, Antony Eden and Olivia Le Andersen. Still splendidly funny, the play set in the 60s tracks a young couple Ginny and Greg, she, racy and modern, he, conservative and self-conscious; they’ve only just met but he’s suffered an attack of love at first sight and wants to marry her. Ginny is going to visit her parents – but is she? A strange pair of slippers under her bed and curious phone calls suggest otherwise and Greg decides to make for the leafy suburbs of Buckinghamshire where allegedly her parents live, grasp the nettle, and ask for her hand in marriage. This is where the fun starts!

Philip and Sheila live in seemingly peaceful middle-class bliss, their house large and comfortable, surrounded by manicured lawns and tasteful garden furniture. They are unfailingly polite, pillars of the local community and have much to recommend them, except unfortunately they are not Ginny’s parents. A hastily scrawled address has led to mistaken identity which is always the cue for hilarity and the cornerstone of all good farce.

Antony Eden has played the role of Greg before and made it his own, poor gullible Greg stumbling on with his mission to get the hand of the girl he loves, had us in stitches. Olivia Le Andersen as Ginny is delightfully flighty and a robust defender of half-truths, but still somehow you believe she will be a suitable wife for Greg.

Liza Goddard plays the understated Sheila beautifully; obviously with a secret sorrow to hide, her marriage to Philip (Steven Pacey) is not all that it seems – nor he for that matter. Steven Pacey is a powerhouse of performance as philandering Philip, trying to cover his tracks with furious bluster at all costs.

The climax of the plot culminates in a flurry of misdrawn conclusions, misunderstandings, and misplaced items, including those slippers, which left us all breathless with laughter. Such a tonic at this rather bleak time of year and full credit to the excellent cast and production for delivering two hours of terrific entertainment.

Jacquie Vowles

Theatre Royal Bath, Sawclose, Bath BA1 1ET


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