Friday, 7 September 2012

Bedroom Farce at 'Theatre by the Lake'

ALAN Ayckbourn's play 'Bedroom Farce' is really situation comedy and it left me wondering if I ought to have opted for Ibsen's 'A Doll's House' showing in a different studio of Keswick's Theatre by the Lake last Thursday night. In his critical analysis of 'Six O' the Best - Northern Theatres' in Northern Voices No.13, Chris Draper placed Alan Ayckbourne's own theatre in Scarborough low down on his list and excluded Keswick's Theatre by the Lake entirely, although I know that he would have dearly liked to have included it. Last Thursday's showing of 'Bedroom Farce' was in the main theatre at Keswick in Cumbria.

I am not an expert on Ayckbourne's work, although Mr. Draper wrote in NV13 as follows: 'London claims to have invented everything but after theatre-in-round was devised by the Greeks it took 2,500 years for it to arrive in England... By passing London and the South it was hauled ashore at Scarborough (and) it was left to ... Alan Ayckbourne to establish Scarborough's worldwide reputation.' Ayckbourne, having premièred his first play in 1959, was artistic director of the Scarborough theatre until 2009.

Chris Draper in his NV13 review of northern theatres suggests some social or political content in Ayckbourne’s 75th play ‘Neighbourhood Watch’ showing earlier this year in Scarborough in the former Odeon cinema building, but I could find little of this in ‘Bedroom Farce’ for it was, for me, more in the style of a Brian Rix’s farce. Amusing but not ‘twitchy’, or troubling or enlightening. Alan Ayckbourn comments:‘Everything about bedrooms but copulation, something which I believe is hardly practised in the British bedroom anyway.’ So it’s another ‘No sex, please we’re British!’

The stage is set out with three bedrooms and features four couples.  Each bed and bedroom is highlighted by a spotlight as the play progresses and the actors interact.  Only one of the women is remotely fanciable and my partner tells me that none of the men would arouse any passion in her.  So we are in the realm of one husband, Nick, bed bound with a bad back; his wife sharing a kiss with Trevor the husband of Susannah only to get caught by Susannah who goes off to tell her mother-in-law Delia all about it.  This all happens in the early hours after Delia and her husband Ernest have just eaten pilchards in bed.  I suppose it tells us something about relationships in the modern world, and left me in a good humour to walk back to our holiday apartment on the far side of Keswick.  But I don't think I'll be in too much of a rush to see another Ayckbourn play.

Bedroom Farce is showing at Theatre by the Lake, Keswick until Wednesday 7th, November 2012.
Box Office:  017687 74411.
The printed version of NORTHERN VOICES 13, now on sale with all sorts of stuff others won't touch and may be obtained as follows: Postal subscription: £5 for the next two issues (post included). Cheques payable to ‘NORTHERN VOICES’ at c/o 52, Todmorden Road, Burnley, Lancashire BB10 4AH.

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