Nottingham Lace Market Theatre
We often think of seventies comedy as a bit outdated but take away the obvious 70's decor and clothes from this play and the comedy is as funny today as it ever was, transcending the decades nicely.
Four couples interwoven within three bedrooms and spanning the ages of the couples and their sometimes complicated relationships with the others, we delve into what happens within the four walls of their sleeping quarters and the talk that is touching on the candid at times.
We start with Ernest and Delia (Roger Newman and Hazel Salisbury), the mature couple of the four and parents to Trevor (Alistair Jack), as they are getting ready to go out for an anniversary meal, but this night will be one that they don't forget in a long time. Both Roger and Hazel provide some wonderful comic moments and lines throughout, and the look on Ernest's face when Delia is cleaning up the pilchards on toast is a delight, as is the mother in law/ daughter in law chat about the "B-E-D" side of their relationship. Absolute classic!
Trevor is married to Susannah (Tilda Stickley). They are a couple at war in their relationship and cause absolute havoc at Malcolm and Kate's housewarming party. Susannah is the epitome of neurotic and the sort of woman you'd hate to be stuck in a lift with! Trevor is the immature counter to Susannah and also the ex of Jan (Charlie Osborne), who has left hubby Nick (Adam Roberts) in bed with a back problem. You get the feeling that Nick's problem is slightly overdone but provides some wonderful comedy moments, especially when Trevor pops back in the early hours to Nick's and Jan's to stay the night after Trevor's and Susannah's latest set to, and to fess up to what happened at the party with Jan!!
And then there are the hosts with the most, Malcolm and Kate (Damien Frendo and Nicky Ubhi). Starting off as the playful pair, playing tricks on each other but ending the night feeling a little bit unsure of their relationship. Malcolm more interested in "locking pin C" than Kate's emotional outpouring of doubts. If you don't know the play you won't understand this, but I'm not going to say any more.
Ayckbourn is a master of writing characters who we can all recognise and the script is a wonderful vision of the different age groups involved, along with their wonderful little foibles, and these eight accomplished actors bring the words and characters alive. Some wonderful comic timing from all involved.
And talking of timing, this play is also a wonderful test for the lighting designer due to the highlighting of the three bedrooms to focus the attention on. Ben Walker, Alex Caven and Allan Green have got the timing, if you'll pardon the pun, spot on. As to did the sound effects designer Darren Coxon. The "backroom" engineers are so often just as important as the actors on stage as they create pictures in the mind and expand the vision you see on stage to make you believe that there really is a bathroom off to stage left and the doorbell or phone is ringing at stage right. get the timing wrong and the magic is gone.
Friday's performance was supposed to have been the final dress rehearsal but so popular is this play that next week is completely sold out so director Graeme Jennings took the decision to open the Lace Market doors for an extra performance.Dress rehearsal? As professional as I would have seen next week during the main run.
An excellent play created by a talented group at the Lace Market, but the only way you'll now be able to see it next week, is if there are any tickets returned to the box office. Friday was a sell out and so is every day next week, and I for one am really chuffed about that, because everyone involved deserves this success.