This week’s ADC main show, Alan Ayckbourn’s Bedrooom Farce, makes for a fun and light-hearted evening. The play is told from the perspective of four different couples during one night of farcical antics and bizarre circumstances and though it is a highly comic play, it also features some highly poignant moments which touch upon issues of love, adultery, and masculinity.
The set for the ADC production was brilliant; the stage was divided into two tiers and three bedrooms, with two bedrooms on the ground floor of the stage and one bedroom above. The set was used to magnificent effect, with the lights directing the audience’s eyes as the scenes changed from one bedroom to another, often to highly comic effect, not only emphasising the differences between the couples, but also highlighting the trends that (as the play seems to suggests) all relationships share: jealousy, tension, and occasional distress. Furthermore, the set emphasised the individuality of each of the couples as each bedroom had its own idiosyncratic décor, differentiating the characteristics of the play’s couples. I can only imagine how hard it was to construct a set with two different floors, so James Ireland’s set design is worthy of praise.
Josh Cleary, the director of the production, exploited Ayckbourn’s clever uses of time and space extremely well, particularly in those scenes where characters were seen on the phone with other characters in different bedrooms on the stage. One character, Nick (played by Colin Rothwell) actually stayed on stage in bed for the whole play, so that he seemed to be a part of every scene whilst also being entirely absent. Rothwell’s performance deserves particular commendation for his distinctive portrayal of his character, whose brief, recurrent comic outbursts of "why me" were especially amusing.
Annabel Bolton’s performance as Susannah was also brilliant. Her comic ‘self-help’ style speeches were delivered excellently, and she conveyed the nuances of her character incredibly effectively. John Tothill, who played Malcolm, is likewise commendable. He had the audience laughing throughout, though his characterization also raised interesting questions about confidence and masculinity through his persistent efforts to demonstrate evidently non-existent DIY skills.
What Tothill, and the play in general, seemed to point out was that the emotions and dynamics portrayed by these couples are an intrinsic part of human relationships. The arguments, jealousy, and tensions of this play are something that every couple can relate to and understand.
The production did, of course, have its flaws. The play was written in 1975, and though this is nothing to do with the production itself, it did mean that the production felt quite dated – though, that’s not to say the feelings and emotions expressed by the play are not still relevant. I also felt that, though the play was funny, there were no moments that I was roaring with laughter. This may have been because there were a few awkward moments where characters seemed to forget their cues or the lighting cues were off, though of course it was the first night of the production so that is understandable.
Nonetheless, I really do recommend seeing Bedroom Farce this week. Ayckbourn is a brilliant writer, Bedroom Farce is one of his best plays, and the ADC production is really worth seeing. It won’t change your life, and it may not have you laughing your head off, but it certainly will give you a few giggles and get you thinking. I, for one, certainly enjoyed my evening. The play seems to portray some of the most negative aspects of love and relationships, though in the end, everything seems to turn out alright – at least for now. So if you’re feeling down about life, this ADC main show will make you feel like you’re not the only one, and perhaps it’ll even give you a new sense of hope! And even if it doesn’t, you’ll have a light-hearted and enjoyable evening anyway!
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