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I missed the first night of Bedroom Farce through unforeseen circumstances but was fortunate enough to get the very last seat on the sold out Saturday night. I’m glad I did, because it turned out to be one of the most perfectly realised productions by the Players I’ve seen to date.
Until now I didn’t think Ayckbourn was my cup of tea, a bit too seventies sitcom. But the Rolls-Royce assuredness of a script which ingeniously juggles three sets, four variously related couples and dialogue that links tiny but highly significant events with deceptive ease altered my view. Director Barrie Atchison assumed total control over the sudden almost imperceptible changes in the play’s synchro-mesh gearing that repeatedly provoked gentle laughter.
Mr Atchinson was of course fortunate to have a stable of highly experienced and talented actors at his disposal, but his casting here was inspired deploying the most well-matched line-up of seasoned Players I can remember.
Stephen Brunton was perfect as the comfortable middle-aged husband Ernest who with his wife Delia (Adrienne Swallow giving possibly the performance of her life) has earlier weathered the storms of matrimony on view elsewhere in the play.
Relative Players newcomer Greg Spencer was on top form as querulous husband Nick whose back injury rendered him helpless as plot complications swirled around him.
I had to remind myself that this is supposedly an amateur company whenever Rachel Duncan as his wife Jan came onto the stage. Effortlessly assured, it was impossible to believe she could ever be anyone other than this long-suffering wife, a sign of rare talent.
Players veteran Ian Davies seems to specialise in slightly insecure alpha males, and here his construction of a lop-sided love gift was endearingly touching as well as comic, his lightness of touch as Malcolm making this a landmark performance. Denise Baker as his wife Blodge came fully into her own in the second act as she allowed this slightly reticent woman to flower in a touching display of loving tact.
Stuart Goodwin is making great leaps as a performer at the moment. His truculent, self-indulgent Trevor the insensitive home-wrecker was all too believable in a part that required the subtlest handling to succeed. Likewise Amanda Robinson as his on-off other half exactly caught the self-obsessed quality of this beautifully-observed example of the post-war me me me generation whose sensitivity towards the world stops with herself.
The period costumes were spot on, and I must just mention the lighting which was simply superb. The stage craft on offer here was of the very highest. This is the sort of show that could stand a run in any commercial theatre. Lucky old Lichfield, and lucky old me too for having the chance to see it.
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