Bedroom Farce

27 November 2008

Alan Ayckbourn may very well be the world’s most performed living playwright, and, depending which source you believe, possibly the second-most performed playwright of all time behind William Shakespeare. Given this, it isn’t surprising that the ADC would choose a work by the playwright for its Fresher’s late-show this year. And, in a term that student audiences have watched ‘Henry V’, ‘Troilus and Cressida’, ‘Richard III’, and ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’, this production may very well have bettered them all.

That’s not to say that ‘Bedroom Farce’ is a masterpiece of British theatre, nor that it is a sure-fire success. What it requires, is a cast and director (or, directors) who are prepared to throw sensibility, reserve, and quietude to the wind, and go straight for the comic jugular. At 11pm at night, this necessitous rampant pace and vivacious energy in not easy to conjure (and I speak here from experience) but this cast do so more than admirably. From their pre-curtain-up preening to their post-curtain-down dancing, there is never a glut in energy, confidence, nor delight. This is a cast that you know is having fun throughout the 90 minute running time of the play, and this is a cast who know that the audience is having fun alongside them. They deserve greater credit, though, than just a comment on their commitment and energy.

They play somewhat stock characters of British middle-class comedy, but nevertheless they are performed with gusto, verve, and flair. It is rare to find a production that doesn’t have a weak link in its cast, but this is one of them, and to remember that the cast is made entirely of freshers, is all the more commendable. Controlling and staging this manic ‘farce’ are two directors who have their fingers right on the button. To manage the frenetic movement of the cast without clumsiness is quite remarkable, and there is not a moment in this production when the audience’s eye is detracted from the action by an awkward entrance or a duff comedic visual. Perhaps the lighting changes could be a little snappier, but this is picking at the split ends of hairs. Very few late shows have managed to sustain my attention for the entire performance, and this is the only one to sustain my full attention from beginning to end. It is performed by an endearing cast, with tremendous talent for comedy, and who are all names to watch out for in Cambridge student productions in the future.This is really terrific stuff.